Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tasty Tuesday


I’m having some people over for dinner this evening. Since, even though I’m on vacation, I'm working this week, I’m going to pick up some big salads for the main course. Last night I made a couple of goodies to go with the salads.

When I was in high school I started working at Red Lobster. It’s kind of ironic that I worked there since I don’t eat seafood of any kind. However, they make the best garlic cheese biscuits. I thought those sounded great to go along with the salads.

Garlic Cheese Biscuits (makes 8-10)
2 cups Bisquick Baking Mix
2/3 cup Milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
1. Mix baking mix, milk and cheese until soft dough forms; beat vigorously 30 seconds.
2. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3.Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Mix margarine and garlic powder; brush over warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet. 5. They are most delicious served warm.


Next week: Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another Dad Story

My dad LOVED to shop. Not for shoes and clothes from the mall like my mom and I, but he loved to shop at Costco, Home Depot, and Sports Chalet. He bought gadgets, doodads, and things sold in bulk.

Costco bulk buying was his favorite I think. Why have 4 or 7 of one thing when you could have 47 of that same thing for a really good price.

When my dad died, I flew to Hawaii which is where he and my mom had retired to. After the initial shock wore off and plans needed to be made, we started finding products he had bought in mass. Large Costco packs of toilet paper were tucked here and there in the garage. The freezer looked like a frozen butcher shop with the various cuts of meat wrapped individually in saran wrap and sorted and labeled in freezer bags. We handed out bottles and bottles of Poweraid to the neighbors in order to make room for the wake’s food.

A couple of months ago my mom and I had a good laugh when she told me that just that week she had to buy toilet paper for the first time since my dad had died. He passed about 4 years ago.

When my parents moved to Hawaii, they packed up some of their boxes and stored them in my garage. I still have boxes of my dad’s tools, car washing equipment, and other things he didn’t want to ship to Hawaii, but couldn’t throw away. Every-so-often I will find something I need in those boxes and think of my dad. This afternoon I needed some WD40. I scoured the inside of the house and there wasn’t a can in sight. I ventured out to the garage and dug through the boxes of miscellaneous bottles, cans and jars of “fix-its”. I never found the WD40, but I did find two very large bottles of dish soap and three full bottles of jet dry!

My dad could never pass up a good deal and chances are it will be several years before I will have to buy dish soap or jet dry again. Thanks Dad!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father’s Day

I got this email from a friend of mine yesterday morning…

So weird, I dream a lot and I guess after talking about your dad the other night, last night I had a dream and your dad was the main character....We were laughing and talking about old times. He was making fun of me. He was belly laughing himself. I woke up today feeling like I spent time with him. It was great and I do believe in dream "visits" so I am here to say he is happy and doing well.

Today is Father’s Day which has been a pretty solemn day for me since my dad past away about 4 years ago.

This email made me sad for a minute and then made me laugh because my friend’s dream personified my dad to a tee.

I go through most of my days not thinking about him being gone because since going away to college when I was 17, not seeing him or talking to him every day was normal. But on the days that I do, like Father’s Day, it hits me hard.

I’m not really a spiritual person, but this dream put a little smile on my face on a day that is usually not very smiley.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, especially mine.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Violin Lessons


Growing up, my elementary school district (the one I now teach in) had a wonderful music program. It started with an introduction to music in Kindergarten to second grade. In third grade, students learned to play the recorder all year in order to prepare for the orchestra option in fourth through sixth grade. In the upper grades, students who wanted to play in the orchestra could enter a lottery to play a district instrument or their families could rent or buy one. Students hoping for the district instruments listed their top three choices with the hopes of winning one of those three in the lottery.

Upon entering upper grade, I wanted to play in the orchestra. I had friends who played the flute and the clarinet so those were my top two choices. The instrument I didn’t really want to play My third choice was the violin.

When the instruments were assigned, I was given the violin. Even though I was disappointed that I didn’t get the flute, I was excited to have an instrument to play.

That excitement was short lived.

I’m not sure how much knowledge you have of string instruments as I don’t have much, but what I do know is that they don’t stay in tune for very long. Well, as good/rare as our music program was, practice with the music teacher at that time was only every other week. Not only did she teach us how to play the violin during those biweekly lessons, but she tuned our instrument as well. However, we never learned to tune the violin ourselves. We were able to make it through practice with our tuned violin, but not much longer. By the time I brought the violin home to practice it was out of tune. A beginner practicing on an out of tune violin is way worse than a beginner practicing on an in tune violin.

My practice times became fewer and far between because it just sounded so bad.*

I made it through the school year playing the violin and performing at the end of year “concert”. After that concert I hung up my violin bow for good. Clearly, it just wasn’t my thing. I so wish I had pursued it or tried something else musical. I love music and so admire people who can play an instrument.

* My mom sees the story a bit different. I say I didn’t practice because it was out of tune and sounded bad, and she says it sounded bad because I didn’t practice. Hmmm, was it the chicken or the egg?


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What is Wrong With This State?!?!

This season on Real Time with Bill Maher, there was a stupidest state contest. No matter how hard California tried, we did not make the top ten, with Arizona ultimately winning the title. I’m very disappointed in this because we are a stupid, stupid state. Maybe not stupid enough to win, but stupid nonetheless.

As you all most likely know California is in a dire budget crisis. With the budget due today, we have already made $64+ billion in cuts and are still short by over $20 billion. Who knows what will happen today, and most likely the budget will not be balanced any time soon.

As a teacher, I am seeing the budget crises from one point of view. It is true, education takes up a very large portion of the state’s budget, rightly so, but the cuts to education have been so deep and we continue to get cut which is ludicrous.

This past week, the stupidity of our state hit home with something more personal than the abstract problems that we usually hear about.

Back in 2007, my school district applied for a very large state grant in order to research and put into place a promising practice for English language learners. Seven other teachers and I have been working on a very exciting way of teaching that our district greatly supports. We received the grant, to begin in the 2007-08 school year. We didn’t get off to a great start as the money that was supposed to be sent to the schools for that school year actually didn’t arrive until the 2008/09 school year. So basically the large sum of money that was supposed to be used over 3 years, was now required to be spent over 2 years. But hey, we took what we could get.

For the last 2 years the 8 of us have been working our butts of to get our promising practice up and running and supporting teachers with their progress. It was a great experience and the progress we saw was incredible. The grant was very worthwhile to us.

The second part of the grant was the research part. California hired an outside research company to study our test scores and the progress we made over the 3 years, or rather 2 years, of the grant. Earlier this year the researchers visited us and were quite impressed with what we had done. It was all very exciting. It was quite apparent that these teaching strategies are very effective and so much different than teaching to the test. Those of us involved in the grant really felt that maybe this was the evolution in education that we have been waiting for since G.W. enacted “No Child Left Behind”.

This week we found out we were wrong. Our asst. superintendent of curriculum, the district person we had been working with, received the following letter cancelling the research.

Picture 073

That’s right, the research piece of the grant was cancelled. CANCELLED!!!! After 3, I mean 2, years and millions of dollars sent to schools to see what kinds of innovative ideas were actually making a difference, it was cancelled, basically just tossed aside. It is so disappointing and a perfect example of California being so stupid.

California spends so much money on text books and curriculum that is just ridiculous, and districts are required to spend it. Then here we are, using money for something truly valuable and we end up with no accountability for that money or information from it. What a waste! This kind of thing is so disheartening.

But on top of that, it is stupid. We throw money around for this and that without any accountability and then wonder why we are broke. There are a lot of good things about California, but often its decisions are just stupid. How were we not in the top 10?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm Still Here, Kind Of

Thank you so much to those of you who have checked in periodically. That touches my heart.

I was really sad the first few weeks and had no desire to blog. I've gone to my blog a few times over the last month to get started again and then see my last post and fall into a teary tailspin all over again (in fact one is happening as I write this).

Grieving over an animal is not easy. I was constantly torn about being so sad. After a little time had passed, I felt so lame about it. She wasn't my husband or wife or mother or father or any other human being that would be devastating to lose. She was a dog. Are you really allowed to grieve hard over a dog? But I did/do miss her. Home was/is not the same, which has been very hard. I have always loved being at home, but I have been so anxious here over the last 6 weeks I can hardly stand it.

The crying fits and carrying a tissue box around the house are fewer and father between, which is good.

I'm starting to get my bearings back. I'm getting a new puppy (and maybe a dog) in July which is making me feel better. That decision caused me a lot of anxiety as well. Is it too soon? How can I replace her? A few people have even made me feel worse by saying they are surprised I am doing it so soon. But it has ultimately come down to the fact that I can't be at home much longer without another being here. I adopted this little cutie this past weekend and am going to bring her home when school is over.

Anyways, I hadn't planned on this pouring out of personal thoughts, but as I said I'm kind of teary tonight. Maybe this will get me going with the blogging again.