Monday, February 23, 2015

My, What Huge Breasts You Have

Nooooo, not mine, get your thoughts out of the gutter...my eyes are up here!
I'm talking about the chicken breast I grilled last night.  Yesterday, I needed to take out some chicken to defrost before using it for dinner.
The recipe I was making listed one pound of chicken breast or 2-3 boneless/skinless breast.  I buy my chicken at Costco in a big bag, and each breast is individually frozen so I can use what I need and keep the rest frozen for later use.  Yesterday, I was stunned.  The new bag I bought last week had giant chicken breasts inside.  One frozen breast weighed one whole pound...on its own.  That must have been the Pamela Anderson of chickens!
I've read articles and other blog posts about how our chicken breasts have increased in size over the last several year for a variety of reasons - antibiotics, hormones, chicken feed, small cages, deliberate breeding.   And now I'm afraid that my beloved Costco bag-o-chicken has succumb to one (or all) of the above.
The protein in my main meals consists mostly of chicken and/or beans.  I eat red meat less than once a month, pork on a rare occasion and never cook it for myself, and can't eat seafood. So chicken is a mainstay in my diet.  The big bags are really cost effective for the amount of chicken I use.  While the organic and free-range chicken is certainly appealing, the cost and the (sometimes) difficulty in getting it prevents me from doing so.  A friend of mine who tends to shop on the organic side of things told me she also buys her chicken at Costco, but it's organic.  The breasts, she said, are definitely normal chicken breast size.  I'll have to do some comparative shopping and maybe some more research before I buy anymore, however the new bag of chicken has scarcely been used.  The problem is, after seeing that super-breast and the others in the bag, I'm a bit hesitant to use anymore.  The thought of it has given me a slight case of the heebee jeebees.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday 9 - Freeway of Love

This week's Saturday 9 song is Freeway of Love by diva Ms. Aretha Franklin.  I love how songs can make memories come flooding back.  The mid-eighties were a funny time.
1) In this song, Aretha's ideal car is a pink Caddy. What's your dream vehicle?  I'm currently in the midst of making a decision about buying a new car or not.  I've been obsessively researching.  Unfortunately, the car of my dreams - the glittery brown Infiniti FX50 - is no longer being made and its facelifted 2015 version isn't as pretty as it used to be.  Plus, it's SO expensive.  But in my dreams, this is my car.
2) Have you ever owned a convertible? Yes!  In high school I drove a blue mustang convertible.  
3) Aretha longs to "drop the pedal and go." Are you a careful, conservative driver? Or do you enjoy going fast? My lead foot keeps me driving fast, but I am also careful. It could be described as efficient driving. 
4) Aretha's grandmother Rachel helped raise her. Tell us about one of your grandparents.  My maternal grandfather was a butcher for years.  He and my grandmother owned a couple of grocery stores in Los Angeles in the 60s and early 70s.  In the last few years of his life he got into horse racing.  His horses ran at Santa Anita and Del Mar, as well as the Caliente track in Mexico.  He passed away less than a year after I was born.  I think I would have enjoyed knowing him.  
5) Aretha played a waitress in the 1980 movie, The Blues Brothers. Have you ever worked in food service? Waitressed at Red Lobster in high school and bartended for about 4 years just out of college.  I didn't like waitressing all that much, but really enjoyed bartending.
6) Aretha was a chain smoker for decades and had a terrible time giving up cigarettes. What habit do you wish you could break?  Caffeine! Just when I thought I was out, it pulls me back in.
7) A sculpture of Aretha is at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in New York City. What's the last museum you visited?  I'm a member at the Norton Simon in Pasadena and took in a visit over winter break.  It is a fantastic little museum - my favorite in the city.  I've never been to the wax museum here...it kind of creeps me out.
8) Since Aretha has many honorary degrees, it would be appropriate to refer to her as Dr. Franklin. Who is the last person you addressed by his or her title (Officer, Father, Pastor, Dr., etc.)?  My school district's superintendent just retired in January.  He is a Dr.
9) The daughter of a minister, Aretha enjoys singing "church music" and her 1972 CD Amazing Grace is one of the best sellers in gospel music history. Do you have any gospel music on your phone, iPod or MP3 player? There isn't any.  I would't say I was a fan, but who doesn't like a good rendition of Amazing Grace?

Monday, February 16, 2015

They're Always So Surprised

Today is Presidents Day, and to honor George and Abe I slept in until 8, walked the dog, and then went to my nail appointment at 10.  What a luxury to get my nails done on a Monday morning!  Since  the plan after the appointment was to come home and do some chores (and not see anyone I knew)  I just went in my walking clothes which consisted of sweatpants, a hoodie, and sneakers and with my hair knotted on the top of my head.
About halfway through my appointment, a woman came in with a young boy and girl.  They were both carrying McDonalds bags.  Upon their arrival, the noise level increased, and the Mickey Ds smell permeated the salon.  I always have some resentfulness when kids come in during my appointments because on several occasions, while their mother is getting her nails done, the employees and other customers are left to babysit the unattended child.  It takes every ounce of my self control not to tell the parent off, which ruins the quiet hour I have every three weeks to pamper myself.  But I digress...
The kids settled after a few directions given by their guardian, and they ate their food.  Once they finished eating, they became noticeable again, but they weren't naughty or disruptive and actually seemed to entertain themselves - even more surprising is they did it without devices of any kind, they just played with each other.
When my manicurist finished with the top coat, I sat under the lamps for a bit while she went to set up another customer.  Since I didn't have anyone to talk to during that time, I looked around and spotted the kids playing over in the waiting area.  I recognized the little girl first, which made me look at the boy - who I recognized as a student in my class.  Before I remembered what I looked like and would have been better off just leaving well enough alone, I said "Well, hello there," to my student D.  He looked up and when he saw me, his eyes got big.  "Is that Miss Delight?!?!" his little sister, who is a first grader at my school, asked with excitement.  For the first few minutes, D just stared at me wide-eyed, nodding or shaking his head to my questions while his younger sister talked my ear off.  After paying and gathering my things he finally spoke telling me what he had planned for the rest of the day and then said goodbye when I left.
Since I teach across town from where I live, I rarely see my students outside of the school day.  But when I do, their reactions are priceless.  The look of excitement, surprise, shock, and worry spreads across their faces and even the most talkative child is rendered mute while they try and comprehend the fact that their teacher is out in the world and not in the classroom where they left me on Friday afternoon.  I might take it personally, but ask any primary teacher,  the kids always have the same reaction.  It's so funny.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Little Shameless Horn Tooting

I just returned home from a quaint little awards ceremony in which I was one of 16 recipients of an Enrichment Award grant from our city's Education Foundation.  Hooray!  I came home with 4 new iPad minis and a charging station for my classroom...
Last spring,  I wrote a grant for my school site which we also won.  The grant outfitted each classroom at my school with 6 iPad minis.  It took our tech department an exorbitant amount of time to get them in our hot little hands, but we did finally get them in October (about 6 months later), and my kids use them for all sorts of things. I LOVE them!  But since 6 is hardly enough in a class of 24, I wrote this city grant for my own classroom.  Now I have 10!
When completing this recent grant application and figuring out how many I could receive under the grant dollar amount there was enough funding for 4 minis plus a little money left over, but not enough to make it 5 minis.  So I added on the charging station instead.  During the renovations this summer, they brilliantly decided to cover up ALL BUT TWO electrical outlets in the classroom.  We were told that they'd be back in to add them after the year started.  It is now 7 months into the year, and I still only have two outlets.
This is what the back outlet looks like most of the time.  The charging station seemed like a great idea!
I unwrapped and unpacked my new stuff when I got home and played around with the charging station just to see how it was set up.
I'm so pleased with it - keeping the cords tangle free, all the plugs are plugged into one surge protector which then plugs into the wall.  It makes me giddy just looking at it.  I can't wait to get it to school tomorrow.
My goal is to have 12 iPad minis in the classroom - 2 students per iPad is ideal.  Off to a good start with 10!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Little Bunny No Face

A few years back, feeling like bad dog owner after a particularly busy week, I was out running errands and came home with a bunny dog toy for Rigby.  It was a soft floppy squeaky toy with squeakers in the head and all 4 feet.  It wasn't the typical dog toy I'd buy for Rigby because she was still pretty much a puppy back then and destroyed anything that was not marketed as "indestructible".  But it was cute, and I wanted to bribe her into loving me, even in my absence, so I brought it home.  While she has a few other toys in her repertoire these days, Bunny is probably Rigby's favorite toy.  Its floppy nature allows her to shake the bejesus out of it and carry it around like a fresh kill.
We also play tug-o-war with it, which wears us both out.
All of Bunny's stuffing has been long gone for quite some time now, but it still has a couple squeakers left.  Rigby even knows which toy is "Bunny" when I tell her to go get it.
While recovering from some illness this weekend, I didn't have the energy for anything all that physical.  So when Rigby started to get cabin fever, I sat at the top of the stairs with my book and threw her toys down the stairs.  Usually this method wears her out as the running up and down the stairs is good exercise, that is as long as she doesn't catch on and decide to sit right beside me at the top of the stairs.
During this game, I had a chance to take a good look at little Bunny and, I'll tell you, its seen better days.  I do remember a few months ago when we lost the foot, but I had not realized that little Bunny no longer has a head.
 It might be a little bit morbid that my dog's favorite toy is a headless rabbit.  
But she does love it so.  And I guess that's a better option than disemboweling a real bunny.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday 9

This week's song inspiration is Sleepin' Bee by Diahann Carroll.  I'm not familiar with her version of it.  I do know Tony Bennett's version though.
When a bee lies sleepin' in the palm of your hand...
1) This song is about the wonder of first love. How would you describe the sensation of falling in love?  Hmmmm, how about manic?  There are so many emotions intertwined, vacillating from excitement to anxious, and every emotion in between.  But those early butterflies are kind of fun aren't they.
2) This 1957 album was the first Diahann Carroll ever recorded. More recently she recorded "A, You're Adorable," a nursery rhyme. (The lyrics are here.) Give us some words to a children's song that remain in your head to this day.  Down by the baaaaay, where the watermelons grooooow, back to my hooooome, I dare not goooooo, for if I dooooo, my mother will saaaaaay, "Did you ever see a goose kissing a moose,  down byyyy the bay?"
3) 1957 was the peak of the Baby Boom (1946 to 1964). Are you a Boomer, a Gen X-er, a Gen Y-er, or a Millennial?   Gen X
4) In 1974, Diahann was named to the Best Coiffed Hall of Fame by the Guild of Professional Beauticians. How often do you change your look?  I don't know what this means - I change my clothes every day.  
5) Ms. Carroll made history as Julia in the first network TV show to star a black woman. She played a nurse. Do you/have you ever worked in the healthcare profession?  I have not nor could I.  I passed out in 10th grade health/first aid class talking about shock and had to spend the rest of the semester in the library.
6) She also played glamorous, scheming Dominique Deveraux on the nighttime soap, Dynasty. Who is the most memorable female villain you've ever seen in a TV show or movie?  Amanda Woodward from Melrose Place - all you Gen Xers will know who she is.
7) Ms. Carroll began her career as a model. Her height (nearly 6' tall) is an asset in that profession. Are you pleased with your height? Or do you wish you were taller, or shorter? Taller for sure.  Mom is 5'8" and Dad was 6'.  When I started going to the orthodontist in 7th grade he predicted I'd be 5'11" based on my skull pictures.  I seem to have gotten my teeny grandmother's genes as I only made it as far as 5'4".   
8) Now in her 80th year, she keeps on working. Recently she's appeared on TV in Grey's Anatomy and Blue Collar and on the big screen in Tyler Perry Presents Peeples. How do you feel about retirement? Is it something you enjoy or look forward to? Or would you prefer to continue working?   My mom and most of her friends are retired teachers and I'll tell you what, they make retirement look fantastic.  I'm not looking forward to being old enough to retire, but yah I think I'll be able to retire and be happy about it.  
9) In her long movie career, Ms. Carroll has played love scenes with some very good looking men, including Sidney Poitier and Billy Dee Williams. If you could steal a kiss from any actor or actress, who would choose? George is probably still on my list even though he's "taken".

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

And That Happened Today

This morning, I woke up with a low grade sore throat.  It's been 70 degrees and WINDY the last couple of weeks, things are in bloom, and my allergies are having a field day.  I wrote the sore throat off to that.  On the way to work, the soreness moved to my ear, and by 8:00 am I had a full blown ear ache.  As a kid I suffered from chronic ear aches/infections.  It was a period of time where the medical community stopped putting tubes in kids' ears, so those of us with the ear issues just had ear issues.  I was well versed in amoxicillin.  As an adult though, they are few and far between.  The last one I had was in maybe 2008.
As the day slowly passed, it was getting harder and harder for me to talk to the kids as just opening my mouth shot pain through the whole right side of my head. After recess, I got them working on a writing assignment and then went back to my desk and held my head.  I'm not a desk sitter during the school day, but it was all I could do.  The obligatory 25 minutes that 2nd graders can work quietly before they get wiggly was nearing so, after sucking down a couple more aspirin, I tried to get it together for the next lesson.  After standing, the ear started sloshing and popping, each move it or I made sent more shooting pain up my jaw bone.  It made me feel on edge and a little off kilter, so I told the kids what was going on as I didn't want them to worry.  The more inquisitive ones wanted me to tell them more.  Then we listened carefully and they could hear my ear popping and swishing.  Yuck!
While some were gasping and others laughed, it must have been too much for one of my boys in the front, as he fell right out of his chair.  When our attention turned to him, he was fine, and got right back in the chair, however the look on his face is one I'd seen AND felt before...I think he fainted, or felt like he was going to faint.  As someone who doesn't like to hear about gross medical things, and who has passed out upon hearing them before, I'm almost certain us talking about my ear and THE SOUNDS made him woozy.  He told me that he was fine, but someone had kicked his leg and he fell.  No one kicked his leg...poor guy.
The next lesson began.  While we were working on identifying complete and incomplete sentences the sound in my ear got louder and then....MY EARDRUM FREAKING BURST.  There was a sharp pain and then fluid started trickling out my ear and down my neck.  Blech!  After the possible fainting, I quietly grabbed a tissue and continued the lesson.  Every time the ear popped it sent a shooting pain, but when it wasn't popping it actually started to feel better - probably releasing some of the pressure.  We finished the lesson, and thankfully, it was time for lunch.
After dropping off the kids and talking with my team (who had graciously offered to take the kids for the rest of the day) I decided to finish up a few more lessons with the kids after lunch.  Yesterday I was out half day to do a training, so taking another half day, and having to plan for yet another sub...well it was just easier to stay.
My team took my kids out to dismissal, and I rushed to urgent care.  After about two hours of waiting and 5 minutes of medical care, I left with an antibiotic for a ruptured ear drum and fluid in the ear.  Still sucking down the aspirin too because, even with the leaky ear, there are still bouts of pain.
It's nighttime now, a notoriously bad time for ear aches, and I have to admit, I'm not feeling great.  I'm on the fence if I should suck it up, set the alarm, get up and try the day or if I should write my sub plans now and just call in the sub.