Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Meet Up

This weekend Grandma J, Jason from The Jason Show and his family, Hula Hank and his family, and I met up in LA at the Grove.

Grandma J, a former Californian/current Texan, is in SoCal visiting family. Hula Hank, a former American/current Australian, is traveling across America with his partner and his son. We were so lucky that they both happened to be in town AT-THE-SAME-TIME. Can you believe it? I know, me neither!
Pictured left-to-right (initials used to protect the innocent, non-bloggers)...
S, Hula Hank, Grandma J, B, Jason Show, D, and GC. I was taking the picture.

It was a beautiful, Los Angeles day and we had a fun, fun time. Thanks for a great visit guys!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Poetry was never really my cup of tea. I took "Poetry" in high school and it was a killer to my G.P.A. I enjoyed a few of the classical poets like Yeats and Byron, but for the most part the pressure of having to find symbolism and write essays about poems chosen by the teacher made me want to just shoot myself in the head.

Now that I am an adult and can read what I wish, I have read some poetry that I really like. I subscribe to the Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor and a new poem is sent to my inbox on a daily basis. A few years ago I was introduced to Billy Collins through the Writer's Alamanac and I think he is my favorite poet. He writes with humor, even on serious topics, that makes reading his poems more fun. This is my favorite...

The Lanyard

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly

off the pale blue walls of this room,

bouncing from typewriter to piano,

from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,

I found myself in the L section of the dictionary

where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist

could send one more suddenly into the past --

a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp

by a deep Adirondack lake

learning how to braid thin plastic strips

into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard

or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,

but that did not keep me from crossing

strand over strand again and again

until I had made a boxy

red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,

and I gave her a lanyard.

She nursed me in many a sickroom,

lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,

set cold face-cloths on my forehead,

and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,

and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.

Here are thousands of meals, she said,

and here is clothing and a good education.

And here is your lanyard, I replied,

which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,

strong legs, bones and teeth,

and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,

and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.

And here, I wish to say to her now,

is a smaller gift--not the archaic truth

that you can never repay your mother,

but the rueful admission that when she took

the two-tone lanyard from my hands,

I was as sure as a boy could be

that this useless, worthless thing I wove

out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

I hope you find it as good as I do.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Meltdown Paid Off!

Good news everyone! The DAP meltdown paid off. That's right. DAP is a sitter arounder most of the time in class. When everyone else is diligently working, DAP is sitting (quietly mind you) and doing NOTHING. When an assignment is not done in a specified amount of time, we have an agreement. He has to take it to another classroom time during his recess or lunch time. Missing play time (which is the ONLY reason DAP comes to school in his eyes) is pretty powerful, so it is often an easy choice for him, but sometimes, not so much. I've been weary about giving him work to do during recess after the melt down incident, but this week a whole new DAP came to school. No, no, he didn't willingly get all his work done without the threat of losing recess. But, two times this week, he chose not to get his work done during work time and when he was sent to another room he did it quickly and pleasantly, like someone who didn't, just three weeks ago, have a complete and utter "tea kettle" meltdown and block me from going back into my classroom. What a difference a few weeks makes. Phew! (Knock on wood, of course)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

To Protect and Serve?

Remember when I said that my faith in humanity may have been restored based on a couple of strangers I came in contact with last week? Well, strike that. Today something happened that just made me roll my eyes, shake my head, and throw up my hands.

This evening I had some errands to run before salsa class. Walmart was my first stop and the bank was my second stop. I spent a little too much time shopping so after checking out, I quickly drove to the bank. As I turned onto the bank's street, I came upon a car stopped in the middle of the road with its flashers on. Since I was in a hurry, I scooted over into the 2nd lane to pass it assuming that it was stalled. As I went by, I noticed that the front end of that car was all smushed up, there was glass and car pieces around it and there was a mini van pulled to the side that had been crashed into. Those two cars had just been in an accident. There was no one else on the road at the time so I pulled into the bank parking lot and pulled out my phone. As I did, I noticed a police car in the parking lot next to Starbucks. I turned the opposite direction than bank so I could drive past the police car. "Hooray!" I thought to myself because the policeman was in the car. The car was backed into the parking spot and there was a car pulled in next to him. He was talking to a girl in the other car. I drove by and rolled down my window. I waved a little to get his attention and he looked at me like I was totally bothering him. I said, "I'm sorry, I just wanted to let you know that there was just an accident right over there." Without even looking towards me he said, "It's already been called in," and went back to talking. I WAS SHOCKED. First, he was rude. Even if he knew about it, what would have been so hard about thanking me and telling me he was checking into it. Second, if he already knew about the accident that was just outside the parking lot and was still talking to a girl at Starbucks rather than rushing over to make sure the people were ok, are you serious? Yah, yah, yah maybe he was on break, but who cares, I always work when I'm on break.

Over and over I keep thinking to myself, "I can't believe it." I know this is just one out of thousands and thousands of police officers, but still. We teach our children to find a police officer if they ever need help. Now what should we tell them. "Boys and girls, find a police officer if you ever need help, just not that ones who are at Starbucks or talking to girls." I don't know why, but for some reason this has really bothered me. What is this world coming to?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tasty Tuesday

Since I've been away from the blog all week, this week's Tasty Tuesday comes from Hula Hank. I'm always up for trying a new recipe.

I know a great recipe for your Tasty Tuesday. Dump a jar of Newman's Own pasta sauce on Paul Newman (in the photo of course) and enjoy!!!

I must say, sounds de-lish! I wonder if I can find me one of those at the grocery store. What do you think?

BTW, Hula Hank is having a Leading Men of the Silver Screen Contest. Go check it out and vote for your favorite oldie but goodie.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tasty Tuesday

This week's recipe is a favorite among my guests! It came from a parent who made it for a luncheon at school. I've only made it in a Dutch oven, but it can be kept warm and served in a slow cooker. Slàinte!

Chicken Noodle Soup (No picture this week. I tried to steal one from google but none of them did the homemade noodles justice. Next time I make it, I will take a picture)


1 whole chicken

2-3 bouillon cubes or 1 1/2 tbsp chicken base

6 eggs

2 tbsp Crisco shortening

flour (a lot)

salt and pepper

1. Remove/Discard packet of "goodies" from whole chicken. Place chicken in large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil and then simmer uncovered 5-6 hours. Add water as needed to keep chicken covered.

2. Remove chicken from pot and place in bowl. Pour broth through strainer into another pot. Add boullion cubes or base. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to a slow boil.

3. For noodles, mix eggs,Crisco, and s&p together. Then add flour to mixture until the dough is very thick and can't be stirred any more. I use the dough hook on my stand mixer.

4. Cover large cutting board and rolling pin with flour. Roll out pieces of the dough to about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into sqaures (or any shape). Put dough in pot of broth. Noodles will cook instantly.

5. When chicken has cooled, debone and add chicken pieces to broth and noodles. I use mostly white meat, but dark meat can be used for more flavor.

6. Cook at a slow boil for another 10 minutes. Serve.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

For those of you following the DAP story this might be of some interest. Tonight was back to school night which is a night that the teachers are able to meet the parents and listen to a presentation about their child's upcoming year. At my school, it's attended by (if we're lucky) about half of our parents. This year I had 5 out of 16 parents attend which, in case you're not so good in math, isn't half. However, one of those parents was DAP's. I have tried to get in touch with them the last couple of weeks, just leaving messages with no response. So I was thrilled that she showed up. DAP happened to have a FANTASTIC day today and I was happy to share that with her. We talked for a bit and I wanted to be encouraging about the last couple of days. To make a long story short, one of her comments to me was, "I'm most worried about his social skills this year." (OK that sounds good, but just wait). "Elementary school is really just a wash, it doesn't matter that much, I'm more concerned with his social skills." (Well, it actually is pretty important. A lot of foundational skills are taught in elementary school) "Oh sure, but he already knows it." (Are you freakin' kidding me, everything in elementary school? Then maybe he should stay home for the next 5 years. Ya know, if he already knows everything.)

That sure would make my life a hell of a lot easier.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Choices - Epilogue

After the meltdown at recess DAP came back with the class after recess was over, and we proceeded through our day. At lunch time, Jason and I went to lunch with our team and I apologized for sending DAP in there that way. I felt, however, that if let him come with me, he'd see that as me backing down...that wasn't one of his two choices. Jason said it was fine, but laughed and told me that one of his students asked DAP why he was in that room. DAP went back to that whiny, tea kettle voice and sobbed, "IIIIIII'mmmmmm doooooiiiiinnnnnggggg myyyyyyy maaaaattttthhhhhh," before crying and dramatically throwing his head onto the desk. Jason told his kids to leave DAP alone. Really, all you can do is laugh.

The remainder of the day with DAP was fine. He didn't have any more meltdowns, and the next day he finished all of his work, before work time was over. As I said in part 1, I am hopeful that all this effort early on in the year, will pay off as the year moves on. He is someone that needs to have structure and to be well prepared for what is to come. I have to be on my toes if I'm going to "throw" something new at him. How does that saying go, "That which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." My goodness, I hope so.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tasty Tuesday

I lived on the East Coast for about 8 years during and just out of college. You haven't had good Italian food until you've eaten in the North End of Boston or Federal Hill in Providence, of course the exception being Italy. During my time there, I fell in love with lemon, wine and garlic in cooking. Piccata, scallopini, marsala, etc. Mmmmmmm, tasty!. I have made some of these dishes and they can be a bit time consuming, so when I found this recipe in a Rachel Rey (30 minute meals) cookbook, I was very excited to try it. No, it's not quite the same as the full-blown meal, but it's quick and has a great lemony-wine taste. The best part about cooking with wine is that you can drink a glass while you're cooking, the bottle's already open. Slàinte!

Chicken Piccata Toss

1lb penne pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ¼ lb chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter
4 cloves of garlic - chopped
2 medium shallots – chopped
2 tbsp flour
½ cup white wine (I use 1 cup)
The juice of one lemon (I use two)
1 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp capers – drained (I don't like food shaped like little green balls, so I don't add them)
½ cup chopped parsley
Chives for garnish

Cook pasta and drain.
Heat a deep nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and the chicken to the pan (I added some garlic to the chicken while cooking). Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly golden all over, about 5-6 minutes. Remove chicken and set in a serving dish while you prepare sauce. Return skillet to the heat and reduce to medium. To the skillet, add another tbsp of oil, 1 tbsp butter, the garlic and shallots and sauté for 3 min. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in wine and reduce liquid, 1 min. Whisk lemon juice and broth into sauce. Stir in capers and parsley. When sauce comes to a bubble add remaining tbsp of butter to give it a little shine. Put the chicken back in the pan and heat through a minute or two. Toss hot pasta with chicken and the sauce. Top with chives and serve. Serves 4.