Saturday, April 30, 2011

Little Monster Trivia

Every year, our school district holds a trivia night for its staff and their friends and family.  All proceeds for the night go to charity. 

Although it's not really a costume night, my team has decided to make it one for the last couple of years.  We did not disappoint this time.

Preparations began months ago.  Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters was our theme even though the trivia night’s theme was luau.

 food 001food 017 Accessories were purchased.

food 002Hair color was decided upon.

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And costumes were made.

About 3 hours before the event preparations began.    food 011 food 021

Make up was applied and lashes were glued.

food 007Decisions were made.

food 009food 013 Wigs were fluffed and heads were capped.

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Stockings were torn, I mean worn.

After hours of preparation, we were ready to answer tough trivia questions.
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We piled into the car and were off!

Other than the dressing up, the best part of trivia night is that a local Episcopal church donates its multipurpose room for the event.  For a few of us there’s nothing quite so fun and bizarre than to be selling and drinking alcohol in church.

Upon arriving at the church, we made our entrance.  Other trivia goers, dressed in their Hawaiian shirts, stared. 

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Some smiled, others scowled at our pure sexiness. 
  
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Shortly after arriving, it was time to get down to business…drinking our pink lemonade martinis and looking pretty.  Oh, and there was also something about trivia.
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So we also tried to do some thinking.  Which can be tough at a table full of “blondes”!

 
Our favorite part of the night was in between the rounds when we could strut our stuff. 

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We danced

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and horrified mingled with our fellow colleagues.

Throughout the night, we were hanging around the middle of the standings showing our trivia prowess.  After the the last round, we didn’t stick around to find out, but we pretty much landed into last place.
That is probably what happens when you spend more time preparing your outfit than memorizing trivia.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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At the end of the night, we all returned to our homes. Time to remove the costumes and go back to normal.  What a shame.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Mortifying High School Moment

Mama Kat asks about an embarrassing moment in school.


I was all ready to repost a more recent embarrassing moment that happened at school; not as a student, but as a teacher. But then I remembered a particular incident that happened during my sophomore year of high school. Pretty much everything and everyone is embarrassing during the 2nd year of high school, but I remember this day over all the others.

Back in the day when driver’s ed was a class offered free of charge in public school I enrolled in it during the second semester of 10th grade. It was taught by our school’s football coach. The driver’s training portion was actually the last 6 weeks of the semester as the first 6 weeks was health education which included sex ed and first aid. (Ha, it’s kind of funny thinking about that combination isn’t it?) I got through the first part of health ed without much incident, with the exception of a lot of blushing and giggling. The first aid part was a different story altogether.

Up until that point, I had fainted two times in my life. Once at about 10 years old as my dad explained what a spinal tap was during dinner. I passed out into my chicken and rice and my mom thought I had died. The second, when I was about 12, while at a friend’s house making dinner in the kitchen. I was in charge of mashing up the cold sausage in a bowl and there was something faint-worthy about the way it felt and I collapsed to the ground. My friend’s mom also thought I had died.

On the first day of the first aid portion, Coach introduced the upcoming curriculum and ended his explanation by telling us that a student in a class earlier that morning had passed out. What?!?! My mind focused on that since I was a known fainter. About 10 minutes into the class period, he began his lecture about going into shock. I tried to listen as best as I could, but instead performed a class demonstration of going into shock myself. I shivered and sweated at the same time, my skin grew clammy, and then the room started spinning.

The next thing I knew I woke up, my legs still under the desk but the rest of me on the ground. Yes, I fell out of that desk/chair contraption but got stuck because I fell out the side that is attached. When I realized where I was the first things I saw was the coach's face in mine checking to see if I was alright and the class was completely empty; the rest of the students having been told to go outside. He talked to me incessantly while I was sprawled on the classroom floor, probably glad that I hadn’t died in his classroom. And he wouldn’t let me get up because he had called the nurse and she was on her way.

Oh, great! If things weren’t embarrassing enough, the nurse came into the classroom rolling a wheel chair. Coach and nurse helped up and put me in the chair, all while I protested that I was fine and didn’t need that wheelchair. To make matters worse, holding the classroom door open was Lenny, the tall, dark and handsome senior who I had a terrible crush on who also happened to be TA-ing for the nurse during that class period. With my head hiding in my shoulder, the nurse passed the wheelchair over to Lenny and the three of us headed to the nurse’s office as my classmates waved and watched my departure.

To make a long story short, my dad was called and had to come get me, but before he did he told them, “She does this all the time,” trying to keep me at school. Alas, school policy…you faint, you go home.

I have not fainted since then. I still have a tendency to get light headed when medical things are discussed and usually need to put my head between my legs to stop the spinning. It’s funny how there are so many high school days that are a complete blur, but I remember every detail of that one.
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Tasty Tuesday

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After going to the farmer’s market again last Thursday, I wanted to make something yummy with my fresh ingredients but didn’t feel like going to the grocery to buy more things.  Found some things I had in the kitchen and made a really delicious pasta dish.  Since I just threw it together, I don’t know exact measurements so everything is pretty much to taste.food 054 Ingredients
- Linguini pasta, cooked (about 1 cup per serving)
- Olive Oil, once around the pan
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- Chopped tomatoes (about a handful per serving) – I used strawberry tomatoes (or “orgasm tomatoes” as the tomato guy calls them)
- White wine, once or twice around the pan (I used left over Riesling)
- Chopped mozzarella cheese – I just had string cheese on hand and used about 3/4 of it
- Basil, 3-4 leaves
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, to taste

Directions
1.  Cook linguini according to package directions.  While pasta cooks, start tomato mixture in a large pan.
2.  Heat olive oil in pan.  Add garlic and sautĂ© until fragrant.
3.  Add tomatoes to the pan and stir.  Let cook over medium heat until heated through.
4.  Add wine and cook until reduced.
5.  When pasta is ready, add to the tomato mixture in the pan and stir ingredients together
6.  Add mozzarella cheese and a few sprinkles of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Reduce heat to low and stir, melting cheese into pasta mixture.
7.  Turn off heat and sprinkle with basil.  Mix to incorporate. 
8.  Serve hot.  Sprinkle with a little more basil and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese if desired.

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So easy yet so fresh and tasty!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Everything I Need To Know I Didn’t Learn During Test Prep

Monday was the first day back to school after spring break. It was also the first day of an entire month (that’s right, 4 whole weeks) of test prep. The STAR, which is California’s standardized test, will begin at our school on May 16 (6 whole weeks before school lets out mind you).

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Since the government has yet to come up with a better way to assess our students, the kids (and teachers) are subjected to standardized testing. Even worse we are subjected to standardize test PRACTICE, endearingly known as teaching to the test.

My school site, having a very large English language learner AND socio-economically disadvantaged population, has perfected this art of teaching to the test. For most of the year, we do a pretty good job of actually instilling knowledge in our students, while at the same time teaching the test. I’m ok with that. We are often told, “If they (the students) really know it, the test doesn’t need to be taught.” That might be true for our older kids, but for a 7 year old, not so much. Choosing from multiple choice answers that try to trick students, coloring INSIDE the bubbles, completing a test in 45 minutes without talking or asking for help, and really just caring about a test like this is really hard for elementary school kids. So again, I’m ok with showing students how to navigate tricky testing formats, increasing their test taking stamina, and motivating them to care about this test.

What I do have a hard time with is stopping instruction (for the most part) a few weeks before the test to take PRACTICE tests. Today will be our fourth day of prep, and I’m already sick of it. We have implemented games and prizes and other fun things to motivate the kids so they don’t get too bored, but what about me? I’m BORED! Yesterday I left school feeling that if I have to do this one more day I’m going to lose my ever loving mind.

I will spare you my rant about the value, or lack there of, of standardized testing. I do understand the need to make sure our kids are meeting standards and that the teachers are doing their job. But there are SO many factors in student learning, number one being that not every child is standardized. So why do they need to take a test that is. Teachers (good ones anyways) assess there students in a million different ways throughout the year. Very few of these assessments are multiple choice tests. In addition, we observe our students, we talk to them, we let them share their thoughts and their work. I guarantee you that most of us can tell you how a student will do on a test before they even take it based on what we do in class everyday.

Until the powers that be realize this, we are saddled with the STAR test and the prep that goes with it. I will continue to do it everyday (even though I secretly want to just forget about it and see what happens), but I’m not going to like it. In fact, it makes me want to jump out of my classroom’s 2nd story window!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Well, Shoot, That Changes Everything!

I went in last week to see my regular stylist.  It was time for a trim.  While in the chair, the stylist’s sister came in and we were introduced.  We have a mutual friend and as we talked she said, “I just love your hair.  I’ve always wanted red hair.”  I uncomfortably thanked her (notorious for not taking compliments well) when what she said sunk in.  Red hair!?!?  Do I have red hair?  I’ve always thought I had blonde hair.  Have I gone through my entire life under the misconception that I am a blonde?
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My dad had red hair, but as a little kid I had very light blonde hair, almost white.  As I’ve gotten older my hair has darkened a bit and I do have (what I’ve always thought) were red highlights.  Still, when I’m in the sun, it definitely lightens.

Whatever the color may be, it got me thinking about hair color stereotypes.  I have been told every easy, dumb blonde joke known to man, but I am not dumb nor am I that easy.  That blonde stereotype doesn’t really fit me.

Researching the redheaded stereotype I found… “A common belief about redheads is that they have fiery tempers and sharp tongues.”  Hmmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar. 

I’m currently reading The Gate House by Nelson DeMille.  The main character states the following about his wife, “Susan is impatient and stubborn, like most redheads.”  Very interesting.

Recently, the following quote was heard on television, “Stop being such a redhead,” after a particularly sassy comment was made. 

That stereotype fits me to a T (or is it tee or tea?).  Maybe I really do have red hair.

What stereotype does your personality live up to?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

Food Porn – The Red Edition

Last night I went to the local farmers’ market to pick up a few things. The strawberries have been out for a bit, but today was the first day (to me) that they tasted good. In fact, they were so red and sweet that I bought 3 cartons of them. I think I had 1 carton for dinner. art 011Tomatoes are just barely in season in Southern California, but surprisingly they were actually also very pretty and red. The strawberry tomatoes are my favorite. art 017 Bruschetta was added to the menu immediately! art 021 copy My friend Mike is throwing a birthday/dinner party for himself this weekend, and I’m responsible for dessert! I offered to make red velvet cupcakes as they are my his favorite. art 038The funny thing about these cupcakes (or anything red velvet) is that I don’t really even like dessert, but I’d do just about anything for red velvet cake!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Random Thoughts

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  • Today, I finalized my summer travel plans.  No international travel this summer, but instead some short trips within the US.  In the beginning of July, I will be flying up to Portland in order to attend a family wedding.  Even more exciting is that I am visiting some friends in Chicago at the end of July.  I just booked that flight today!  I have never been to Chicago and can’t wait!  I’ll be there for 5 days and am staying in the Lincoln Park area.  Have you been there before?  Any Chicago tips?  Any places I shouldn’t miss?
  • My book club is currently reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  While I wait for the actual book to arrive at my local library, I have downloaded the audiobook to my iPhone.  I’ve been listening to it on my morning and evening crazy dog walk.  I am entranced with it…a book about people who have fallen in love with books and brought together by those books.  It is told entirely in friendly letters and telegrams – so very clever.  I think it is going to end up on my favorites list.  Have you read it?
  • Yesterday was kind of an overcast, funky day.  It wasn’t terribly cold, but it felt so because the sun was scarce.  When I returned from a walk, I was surprised that my camellia bush is blooming!
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    Two winters ago we had a really bad frost.  My old camellia bush froze, and it couldn’t be revived so it was removed.  Last spring I planted a new one.  These are the first blooms!  I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening, but the camellia in this spot, in the front yard always does pretty well.
  • This week, a “friend” on Facebook posted the following question, “So what is the going rate for the tooth fairy these days?  Cole is going to lose his first tooth.”  Maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon, but I was shocked by the responses.  A few people responded with $1-$2.  I usually got $0.50 - $1.00 for a tooth, so a couple of dollars seems reasonable.  I assume even the tooth fairy has to deal with inflation.  However, the majority of the responses were anywhere from $5 to $50 a tooth.  Fifty dollars?  I’d knock my own teeth out for $50!  Shoot!  I might even knock them out for $5 these days.  I find that terribly excessive.  What are you paying for teeth these days?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

March Is Over (3 for 3)

The Calendar Challenge over at The Kathryn Wheel continues, as does my participation in it.  As I’ve mentioned before, I do like keeping a journal calendar.  Even though there is no possible way I can journal every single day, the calendar gives me a quick opportunity to work in my art journal every day.   

For March I tried the type of calendar Kate (and many of the other participants) creates.  All those little squares were kind of a pain at first.  Getting the right size to fit the page was hard.  I created a gorgeous background, but most of it got covered up because my measuring seemed to be off. 
art 010Anyhow, I did love using my leftover scraps of patterned paper for the squares, and I think the colors turned out really bright and cheery.  I’m doing something a little different for April, but I’ll definitely use this format again.  Fun!  Fun!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Crazy Goes Back to School

Shortly after bringing Rigby home from the rescue last summer, she was enrolled in school.  I was bound and determined that she would be a very well trained dog who listened to her owner.  I met a trainer at the dog park, and hired her to work with the two of us over the summer.  Rigby is an extremely smart working dog and was a prize student.  She learned very quickly and seemed to thrive on learning new things. 

Well, Rigby has reached adolescence.  Many of the things she learned before she was a year old have been thrown right out the window.  Sometimes her behavior is so crazy I fear she is possessed and, I swear, her head spins around multiple times.

“Come” now only happens if I have something good in my hand, and only if it is as good as the squirrel, bird, or dog walking by outside.  “Leave it” works only if the item that she is destroying isn’t important, expensive, or a box of Kleenex.  “Stay” has turned into a power struggle of sorts.  She stays for a bit, then gets up until I tell her “no” and she goes back only to get back up again.  At that point I usually end up chasing her around the kitchen table because she won’t “come” or “leave it”.  On top of that she refuses to get into the car.  I have to physically pick her up and put her inside if I want to take her somewhere. 

In the midst of being sick and stressed out at work a couple of weeks ago I had had it with her “teenage” defiance! 

The trainer came back today for some maintenance work this afternoon.  We spent about 3 hours working on my list of frustrations.  It was money well spent.  Rigby didn’t disappoint.  She was her silly self, but she also demonstrated the reasons why I made this appointment,  which was great because the trainer was able to give me some techniques and reminders on how to handle things when Rigby rolls her eyes at me tests the boundaries. 

The best part of the whole session…My beast of a dog who can jump 10 feet in the air but refused to jump in the back of the car now jumps in without hassle.  It took about 20 minutes of work and a lot of cheese and salami bribes, but she now hops in with just a quick, “Up!”

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Rigby really is a cool dog, but I am so looking forward to her turning 2 and leaving the teenage years behind.