Saturday, May 7, 2011

A contest!

Ok, so I have been gone for a while. But I'm back, and this time it's personal.

Shoot over to Joshilyn Jackson's page for a chance to win all kinds of cool stuff.

For some reason, my toolbar is not appearing so I cannot hyperlink it, but I will fix it when it allows me to. In the meantime, here is the link

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chickens, Jelly, and Facebook

I had a plan, when I was in 8th grade that I believed in with all my heart until I graduated from high school. I was going to be a teacher, I was going to live on a ranch and train horses all by myself, because I was never going to be married and certainly never going to have any children. Kids were always … sticky. Men were always trying to boss me around. When I remember that plan, it’s the one time in my life when I think that there might just be a God, because how else, two marriages and four children later, could things have drastically come to a different point?

I thought about change today, while I was making black raspberry jelly from berries picked from my woods, while the chickens clucked and purred under the window and my husband’s chainsaw ran its protesting teeth through the Birch tree we plan to use to warm our house this winter. I thought about how I never would have imagined this life when I was busy making plans.

Facebook has forced me to look back on my life. I really hate that, because, for lack of a better, more cultivated word, I was an asshole. One big bundle of ME hormones all shoved into Chic jeans and Limited shirts. When I look at the faces of the people I went to school with, read their daily stories, I wonder if they look back like I do. I wish I could fly them out to my house, one by one, and show them how different I am now. I would like to have them meet my students, drive over the cavernous ruts in my driveway, talk with me while I rustle up my Cowboy Spaghetti or lasagna or BBQ ribs and the kids do a good job of not breaking their necks on the trampoline, telling me about how they hate or love their bosses or their iPhone, and how school is getting close to starting, the summer goes by so fast! I want to know them like I never did. I guess I wish I had a do-over, like I could stand in the yard and yell “allleeee-allleeee-all-come-free!” and I could really be a friend this time.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Appearances, Books, and Hugs

I just put down a book. This is a normal thing, I do it probably a hundred times a day without thinking about it, but this time was significant for two reasons. First, I was crying. Well, sobbing a little. The second is that this book was brought to me by a student. I sat on the couch, tears pouring down my face, chest hitching, face contorted as I read the last ten pages, fervently hoping my husband would not walk by, knowing that I was powerless to stop whether he did or not.

My student, a girl in my first period class, announced to me that she had “the best book ever” for me to read. It was her favorite book, she explained, so favored that the binding had broken, separating it into halves. I was amazed when she brought Searching for David’s Heart, by Cherie Bennett, in the next day, not only because she remembered, but because she was willing to trust me with a treasure.

This got me to thinking about when I was in college, getting ready to begin Junior Field Experience, and we had a speaker come in. An elementary school teacher, she came in to explain to us the dangers and pitfalls of showing too much of ourselves to our students. I don’t mean cleavage and leg, but she told us things like not to wear a crucifix necklace if we were Catholic so that we would not be criticized for attempting to sway students to a certain faith or not to show allegiance to one political party. She also told us that under no circumstance should we hug or touch a student at all – even if they were crying – because this could give the appearance of impropriety.


If one of my students is crying, I am not supposed to hug or reach out in any way?

If one of my students just got accepted to a college they never dreamed of being able to get into, no hugs of joy and pride?

“NO,” she said, emphatically and unequivocally. No.

I started to think maybe teaching wasn’t for me.

Now I am so happy that I finished, that I get to teach. Each one of my classes is a microcosm, a community that laughs, learns, sometimes cries, but, most importantly, shares at least part of themselves with the rest of us. I have my critics who say that my non-traditional methods are bunk, that when you walk past my room, kids are either reading, working on laptops, doing group activities, or some combination of the three – you never see me actually teaching anything.

And they’re right. I don’t stand up there and blather on, showing the kids how very much I know about literature and history. Because that’s not the point – the point is for them to discover, unearth for themselves and possibly find a passion or a truth. The point is for them to be given opportunities to figure out how to work with other people, how to find ways and paths and openings, to be creative and to have pride in what they have done. The point is for me to support them, to start them off and help them along the way, not be the center of attention.

I will never forget one student crying as she read the end of a novel, or when a student struggled with making a college choice, fearing alienating her mother, or putting on prom and the senior trip, going to Washington DC … the memories are crowding into this paragraph like kids tumbling through the turnstiles into Disneyland, too many to list here.

But I will go in tomorrow and tell my student how her treasured book made me cry, citing exactly what parts did me, and I will probably tear up, and she will probably hug me. Appearances be damned, I will hug her right back.

For more Spins on appearances, head over to Sprite’s Keeper!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter, Jett, and My Dad.

The Spin this week is supposed to be your favorite post, your best post, of the ones you have already done. The key word there is "supposed." This is a new post, but, in the spirit of Easter and new beginnings, I am choosing this as the best one.

When my father died in October, my life went into a tailspin that I truly never saw coming. I new he was ill, I knew he would die soon, but I was totally unprepared for the impact this would have on my life. It sounds so stupid to say that, because it's my DAD for goodness sake, of course it's going to have a huge impact, but I really was blindsided. This is why I have not blogged - I simply could not.

I grew up riding, showing, and eventually training horses. My dad was such a part of that, always not only supporting me, but working side by side with me, so much so that horses and my dad were interwoven and inseparable. I think it was harder to deal with his death because I didn't have any horses - there wasn't any creature who was part of that connection that I could lean my face against and cry until I couldn't cry anymore.

A few weeks ago, my best friend asked me to stop by her classroom on my prep period, she had something she wanted to show me. I had no idea she was going to show me this:


Look at that face. Is your heart melting? Mine did.

She explained that he needed a "retirement home." Plenty healthy enough to ride, he just couldn't be shown anymore, and his fabulous owner, Teri, needed a haven for him. MC thought of me. She was there when I couldn't have my last horse anymore (I hurt my back, herniated my L5 disc). She knew how after the physical therapy I was so terrified I wouldn't be able to ride again, and the absolute joy when I could. Most of all, she knew how much I missed it, how I had an empty space.

Thank you, MC and Teri, for my new beginning.

So I am back, a little wobbly, but the emotional bruises are healing. I am slowly but surely pulling my life back together, and this guy is helping me along wonderfully.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Three Girls, Nine Hundred Children, and Unsatisfactory Macaroni

Two very close friends of mine and our nine hundred children went to see Alvin and the Chipmunks and then out to dinner - what fun! We had the entire theater to ourselves which was such a blessing, since we didn't have to shush the children or offend anyone by pushing past them for the eighth trip to the bathroom! Although, it turns out that if you use your cell phone for texting during the movie, even if you are the only ones in the theater, a woman who needs to be introduced to conditioner and Xanax will sharply reprimand you. "Ma'am!" she snapped, "there are NO cell phones in the theater!" Thank God she stopped us - we were probably interfering with heart monitors or other sensitive medical equipment.

The restaurant we went to en masse had something interesting on the menu, which I don't remember the exact name, but it was sauteed gnocchi with bruschetta - yum! But then, when it was on the plate in front of me, it just kinda fell flat. I realize I'm about to sound really snotty and self-important, but hey, I gotta be honest. I thought I could do better.

Tonight, while I boiled about half a pound of angel hair pasta (I was going to use gnocchi, but my husband's face fell when I said "gnocchi," so I used macaroni instead), I took a sirloin steak and cut it into thin strips. Then I smashed the heck out of the strips with this:

Then, I cut the strips into bite-sized pieces, and tossed them with a mixture of searing flour, garlic powder, and cayenne.

I coated my cast iron frying pan with a few turns of vegetable oil, and fried my little strips of deliciousness quickly, scooping them out medium to medium-rare and tossing them onto my mound of cooked and drained macaroni waiting in the pot.

When all the strips were done and accounted for, I dashed a little Worchestershire Sauce and some beef broth into the pan, scraping up all the wonderful browned bits stuck to the bottom. Then, I dumped in about two cups of bruschetta. Ohhh my.

I tossed it all together, topped it with some Parmigiano Reggiano, and ended up with this:

Please, Sir, Allow Me Pasta

1 pound sirloin, cut into strips and pounded thin
1/2 c searing flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
oil for sauteeing
2 teaspoons worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
2 cups bruschetta
parmigiano reggiano to taste

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday #14

Outside ...

Inside ...

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Propane, septic, and speeding tickets.

"Alright," I thought, "Game ON, 2010, GAME ON." Gritting my teeth, I planned to write down my weight every morning, get up 20 precious minutes early so that I could Tread on the Mill and Boost My Metabolism, and keep a *faithful* journal about what I ate. I scheduled days to blog. I figured out ways to save money. I was SET I had a PLAN and I had resolved on how to resolve to be a better me.

Then the mail came.

Let me say first that this month has been a tough one. Christmas, for one, the first without my dad. And, even though Christmas is wonderful, it is expensive, but hey, ok. Two weeks before Christmas my husband had to buy a new truck (new to us, but still), since his simply wasn't going to pass the Nazi Regime Inspection. I have passed the edict that none in the household shall say the payment aloud. Saying aloud makes it real. But I still smiled and gritted my teeth and determined to keep track of what I had resolved to do.

Two days before Christmas, well into the evening, my husband looks at me and says "oh SHIT I forgot to call for propane. Hon, can you do that tomorrow?" Two. Days. Four hundred dollars for *some* propane, not coming close to filling the tank. "Look," the children whispered to each other, "she smiles but can't talk while she does. It's creepin' me out, man."

The day after Christmas, all the drains in our house simply go on strike - nothing will drain. Um, what? It turns out the septic tank is full. *blink* That can happen? Why yes, it can. And to have it drained, which is just as disgusting and malodorous as the picture your imagination is painting right now, costs 250 dollars. I now twitch when I smile.

Now, the mail.

In the mail is a speeding ticket. The state of Arizona insists that my husband was speeding "approximately" 14 miles per hour over the limit. I must include here that I told my husband that Arizona brooked no nonsense when it came to speeding, from the mobile speed traps, the 8 million patrol cars, and the (this is the important part) fixed cameras on intersection lights. "It must not be me!" he exclaimed. Then he looked on page two, on which there is are pictures of the car coming and going. There is also a picture of the license plate, and a remarkably clear picture of my husband driving. I am so proud that only ONE of the "I told you to slow down"s jostling at the back of my clenched teeth manages to bolt free, and that the "I told you so" did not have a single "you stupid son-of-a-bitch" attached. Especially when he read the part about having 30 days to pay $254.00.

Ah, sweet Jesus.

My new resolve? Besides trying to make it through January without having to eat the dog or sell one of the children for gas money? I really am resolving to be a healthier me, a better me, but now I have added: when I speak, I will be heard. After all, it seems to be expensive to not listen.

For more resolution, head over to Sprite's Keeper.