Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday 9 – JT

Today is (now) officially the first day of MY summer break!  I’m relieved the curriculum work is done and look forward to some time to re-energize without worrying about school.  However, as my first day of break, I’m left wondering WHY ON EARTH I am up at 7:30 in the morning.  As far as I’m concerned THAT must stop immediately.  For now, though, some time for a Saturday 9.

On a side note, my friend Jlo is a Justin Timberlake fan.  She even boasts that she was a fan back in the day when he had long, curly locks, looked to be about 15, and sang in *N Sync.  She’ll enjoy this post.
1) When was the last time that you got dressed up, or to borrow from Mr. Timberlake, "fixed up to the nines?"  Hmmm, I can’t remember the last time I was dressed to the nines…prom?  I like to dress nicely, but “the nines” isn’t really my thing.

2) Justin Timberlake is known for his threads. Do you try to keep up with fashion trends?  I’m not as concerned about it as I used to be.  Thank goodness jeans and cute shoes are still in style. 

3) While on tour, Justin has a cigar roller on call so that he and the band can enjoy a "gentleman's club" atmosphere back stage. Do you enjoy the smell of a good cigar?  I wouldn’t say I enjoy the smell, but I think it’s more tolerable than cigarettes. 

4) Justin appeared on Star Search when still in grade school, and he's been working ever since. Did you work when you were a kid?  I did chores for an allowance as a kid and babysat in the neighborhood when I was old enough. 

5) JT has appeared several times on Saturday Night Live, a show that premiered before he was born. Who is your most favorite ever SNL cast member of all time?  I’m not a regular watcher of SNL, but I’d have to say Adam Sandler and Jimmy Fallon.  Although I like the old-school cast like Billy Crystal and Steve Martin. I did see JT’s “Dick in a Box” from when he he hosted SNL, and it’s pretty funny.

6) Justin is a very good golfer (6 handicap). Will you play this summer?  I’d rather dress to the nines.

7) A round of golf requires hours outside in the elements. Have you ever endured a painful sunburn?  The days of going to the pool or the beach slathered in baby oil caused many a damaging sub burn.

8) When they were young, Justin dated Britney Spears. Obviously, it's been easy for him to keep up with her successes and problems over the years. Do you wonder how one of your exes is doing? No, not really. 

9) Ever since his days with N'Sync, Justin Timberlake has supported music education. Did your grade school offer music classes? Yes, the school had once a week K-3 music and 4-6 orchestra or chorus.  I tried my hand at the violin, but it didn’t go well.  Songs?  I think we learned Mary Had a Little Lamb right off the bat but I don’t remember the other songs.

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Pilgrimage, of Sorts

After a few days in Lisbon, we drove North to Porto making a stop in Fátima on the way. 

I had not realized how relatively recent the “visions” had been and the subsequent construction of the Basilica, Chapel, and Church. 

Right away it was clear how much of a tourist attraction Fátima is.

A statue of the Virgin Mary in the Chapel of Apparitions (1919).  The statue marks the site where the visions are said to have occurred.
stuff 100 A worshipper walks on her knees to the Our Lady of Fátima shrine with Robert Schad’s High Cross in the background.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima (1928)Church of the Santíssima Trindade (2007) – the eight largest Christian church in the world.View of the Basilica from the Church. And in case there hadn’t been enough worship in the sanctuary, there were blocks and blocks of “holy’ tourist crap to take home with you. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Moving Bowls

During a party at my house a few weeks ago, I needed a bowl for one of the guests.  My serving bowls are stacked to the left inside a cabinet hanging over my countertop.  stuff 247The bowls, being stacked, are heavy and have always been on the side farthest away making them rather hard for me to reach.  The night of the party, my friend Mike was in the kitchen too so I asked him to take one down for me.  He asked me how I got them down when no one was there with me.  I told him I had to climb on the counter or use a large spoon to pull them closer for me to reach. (And who knows how I got that blue glass pitcher lying on its side up there.)  He laughed and said, “Why don’t you switch the bowls and glasses around?” 

There were a few people who helped me unpack when I moved into my house a few years ago.  I believe my mom unpacked my kitchen so it would make sense that ALL of the wine glasses were put in the spot easiest to reach.  It had never even occurred to me to move the bowls.  Well duh!  It was such a good idea, I asked him to add it to my summer to-do list board. 

Even though I had to work all of last week, my evenings were fairly open since I didn’t have to worry about school work or grading papers on summer break.  I took some time each day I got home from work to complete a chore on my summer to-do list.  Moving the bowls was one of those chores.  A little bit of cleaning took place in addition to the moving. 

stuff 248Having easier access to them, I was able to spread them out a bit as well.  Now they are not only closer, but the stacks aren’t as heavy either.  I bought some grapes while grocery shopping this weekend.  When I opened the cupboard for a bowl, it was so easy to take one out.  It made me laugh to myself that I hadn’t done it sooner.  Thanks for the great idea Mike!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It’s As If the Word “No” Isn’t Actually In My Vocabulary

It’s 6:30 am and I am about to begin my fourth day of summer “break”.  I use “break” loosely in that even though the last day of school was Friday the 14th, I haven’t actually been on break yet. 

After spending most of last summer moving into and setting up my new classroom what got me through was that this summer was going to be 8 weeks instead of the 6 that I had been used to.  Then in January it was decided that 2nd grade would begin the new Common Core national curriculum in the fall of 2013.  Although I am very much looking forward to transitioning away from teaching to the test, this news means I'm basically waving goodbye to summer break.  As part of a few curriculum committees, I’ve spent this week and (will be) next week working on the new curriculum.  The last few weeks leading up to the meetings, I lamented often about my difficulty saying “no” to additional work.  However, even as summer break approached and I started to regret agreeing to the work, I sucked it up and have been honoring my commitment this week.  Just getting through the two weeks…

My colleagues and I were busy working on various projects when we were pulled together on Tuesday and told that we’d been hired to train teachers outside the district.  Not only did that add work to our already overloaded list of tasks but it also added work days to my summer.  Being surprised, we all smiled kind of and nodded as the blood drained from our faces.  It would have been completely acceptable to say, “No, I’m sorry, I will not be able to do the training.”  But instead, we all rolled our eyes at each other in agreement about the pile of work, bitched about it at lunch, and then returned to our projects. No one said “No”.

Yesterday afternoon, it was like déjà vu.  A few weeks ago our district announced they were holding an optional Common Core training in August.  My team and I signed up, looking forward to some guidance with the new curriculum.  At yesterday’s meeting, we were once again pulled together, and it was casually mentioned that our committee would be presenting the August training.  My jaw dropped to the floor.  A few of my colleagues spoke up about their concern while the rest of us sat anxiety ridden.  Without actually saying “no” these teachers brought up their fear that, even for us, the curriculum is so new and it’s not right to have teachers who are just getting their feet wet with it learn from those of us who are only slightly ahead of the game.  The opinion was heard, but the assumption that we were training stood. 

More bitching ensued at lunch.  A few decided an emphatic “no” was going to be necessary while the rest of us waved our hands frantically and repeated “It’s ok, it’s ok, we’ll just do it.” Later in the afternoon we were brought back together and a few made it clear they were not comfortable with the training and therefore would not be able to do it.  I was so very uncomfortable and never once agreed or disagreed, just staring at my to-do-list wishing the discussion would end.

After all was said and done, the concern was well received and adjustments were made to the training.  However, I am not sure if I’m presenting or not because I never said I wouldn’t.

It’s funny because I don’t tend to be someone who does things I don’t want to do.  I’m not a yes-man and usually don’t have any trouble speaking my mind and being kind of stubborn about my opinion.  But when someone is counting on me (both professionally or personally) I find it so very difficult to say “No, I can’t (or won’t)”.  It probably stems from not wanting to let anyone down, but I tell you what, it’s starting to wear on me a little bit.  I REALLY want to be on summer break. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lunch, It’s What’s For Breakfast

As I think I’ve mentioned, I am not a fan of breakfast.  The thought of a typical breakfast consisting of cereal, eggs, pancakes, or pastries early in the morning makes me sick to my stomach.  But they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I’ve been forcing myself to choke down breakfast foods for many, many years. 

Last weekend I decided enough was enough.  Who says I have to eat typical breakfast foods for breakfast?  It’s not like there is a breakfast police!  I searched online a bit looking for non-breakfast items I might like instead.  Most of the easy recipes still included eggs, but I found a forum where people listed the non-traditional items they ate for breakfast.  The list was limitless, from salads, to sandwiches and from pastas to leftovers.  As it happened, I had just made a couple of batches of roasted tomatoes so I started there, branching out of the breakfast zone with a (turkey)BLT…

stuff 250This BLT is the best sandwich ever and made an excellent breakfast.

I had purchased some wraps for my lunches the previous week and used one with some left over chicken the next day.  Very tasty and easy wrap.
 stuff 251 
Since, I’ve started to get the hang of it…
Black bean, cheese, and corn tortilla quesadilla. 

stuff 247 
Turkey and Swiss on toasted wheat.
stuff 249Leftover party appetizers  - Calabrese salami, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and crackers.
stuff 248
I still greatly dislike getting up in the morning, but it’s been a little easier over the last week or so knowing that I didn’t have to eat breakfast breakfast.  Lunch breakfast makes me much happier. 

What are you eating for breakfast?

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Before leaving for Portugal, any past visitors I spoke with about my trip said that a visit to Sintra was a must.  I was told numerous times the town and its palace were just beautiful. 

My research seemed to second that advice.  I was drawn to the palace immediately.  Sintra was the city I most looked forward to visiting.

While in Lisbon, we took a day trip up to Sintra. 

The sun was seen a bit in Lisbon, but as we headed north it grew overcast.  And as we climbed the mountain to the palace the mist was so heavy I could barely see my hand in front of my face.  The colorful Pena Palace was dull and gray upon my visit.  But even so, it was so opulent and unique – like a fairy tale castle.

Stuff 197_1

Stuff 197_2
Once inside the palace, the tile work was incredible.  As I’ve mentioned, I was most taken with the tile in all of Portugal.  It was on a grand scale inside the palace – very detailed.

Stuff 201_1 
After the visit, we headed back down the mountain to the town of Sintra. 

Another delicious pastry, Queijadas de Sintra, and a wine tasting.  I wasn’t completely taken with Portuguese food, but their pastries were quite good.  This one was probably my favorite. 

  Sintra is a charming town, and I wish I had more than just the day for a visit.  Maybe next time.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Well, I’ll Take 8…Just in Case

With only 3 days (really 2.5) left in the school year, my grade level team is having a field day on Thursday.  The kids will move through various games set up by the teachers.  After the games, we will surprise them with a popsicle.  I’m in charge of getting the popsicles. 
big stickBeing a little worried about finding over 90 popsicles at any one store I decided to call the bulk store down the street from school to see if I could arrange for a hold on them to pick up tomorrow afternoon.  After being placed on hold a few times, I was finally connected to Chris, who worked in the back.  I told him I needed about 90 but of course, depending on how many were in a package, I’d take more than 90 if needed.  He was very helpful, asking me questions to clarify what I wanted and also finding out how many were in the packages.  Here was our conversation from that point…
Chris – There are 12 in a package.
Me – Ummmm…(dividing 90 by 12 in my head) 
Chris – That’s 7, you need 7 packages.
Me -  Oh, uhhh, it’s actually 8 I think.  That would give 96.
Chris – No, it’s 7.  That’ll be 94. 
Me – Hmmmm, I think it’s 8.
Chris - (Sound of pencil scribbling) It’s 7, 7 x 12 is 94. 
At first I started to second guess myself – after all my students only learn multiplication facts to 10.  Maybe I was rusty,  To not argue with him I asked him if he would check to see if they had enough.  While I was on hold, I checked my math once again.  Nope, not rusty.  While I waited for Chris’s return I had an internal debate with myself.  I needed 8 bags, but didn’t want to embarrass him (and didn’t want to pick up 90 licked popsicles, thank you very much).  But I still needed what I needed.

When he got back on the phone, he told me that they had enough.  “Ya know,” I said, “I think just in case I’ll want 8 bags instead of 7.  Are there enough for me to take 8?”  He said there were and that he’d hold them for me, seemingly none the wiser that I was questioning his math.  I’ll know for sure when I go pick them up this afternoon.  Fingers crossed there are enough, saliva free popsicles. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Day My Dog Loses Her Mind

When I got home Friday night I was reminded by my phone that it was time for Rigby’s monthly flea medication.  Although I’m all for my dog not having fleas, the process of giving the medication is rather an ordeal.  An ordeal that lasts about 24 hours. 

I say process because, with Rigby, it’s not quite as easy as the package directions make it out to be.  Being a Queensland heeler, she has what is called a double coat of hair.  From her neck to the middle of her back she’s got what I’d describe as a 2 inch wide ridge of long hair.  As far as I’m concerned this coat has three uses – one to shed all over my house and clothes, one to stick straight up in the air anytime she barks at someone walking or riding past the house, and one for moisture protection. 

The third use is what makes applying the flea medication so difficult.  Regardless of the brand, the gist of the directions is to push the fur apart on the dog’s back, between the shoulder blades, and squeeze the tube of medication onto the dogs skin.  Easier said than done.  To start, it’s hard to actually find her skin under that dual coat, but that isn’t the hard part.  Once the dose has been given, that moisture wicking coat goes to work.  Within 10-15 minutes all the medication is no longer on her skin instead it has migrated itself to the end of her coat, leaving a wet blotch on the middle of her back.

For the first few minutes after application and migration, Rigby runs around crazily like most dogs do upon getting wet.  But once she realizes it’s not water, my goofy, happy-go-lucky, well-behaved dog loses her ever loving mind for the next 24-36 hours.  It makes her rather uncomfortable and she can’t sit still.  She tries to lay down but can’t for more than a few seconds.  She paces, doesn’t come when called, and won’t eat or drink.  I’ve tried to ignore it, but it’s hard to ignore a miserable pacing dog in the middle of the night. 

Every time this happens, I threaten to call the vet and ask them how in the heck do I give this medication to a dog with a moisture wicking double coat.  But by the end of the next day, she’s back to her old self.  And after a month has gone by, I forget about the ordeal and think somehow I’ll apply it better this time around.  Which has yet to happen.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Middle of Our Life Book Club

Last month, I wrote a small blurb about the book I read for book club – The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.  The premise being a mother/son book club that took place during the mother’s battle with cancer.  I’d say about a quarter of the book was heart wrenching – “watching” the mother die of cancer and her family (her son) deal with her death.  But most of the book celebrated books and reading.  The author reminds us of that oh-so-common question, “What are you reading?”  It is such a simple question, but, as this book reminded me, the answer(s) can be very satisfying and open your eyes to so many new experiences.

June’s book club book was The Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.  It took awhile to get into, but once I did…well, it is a beautiful book.  Tonight’s get together marks the end of our tenth year reading together.  Although I’m an avid reader life sometimes gets in the way of reading for pleasure.  Book club has forced me (in a good way) to read regularly, even if I don’t really have the time.  It has also pushed my reading interests outside the box as some of my favorite books were books I’d never have read if it weren’t for book club. 

There are 8 members and we each get one time a year to host, approximately every 5-6 weeks apart, taking summers off.  The 80 books below make up our reading library, in no particular order (bolded titles are my favorites)…
The Elegance of a Hedgehog
The End of Your Life Book Club
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Gone Girl
The Housekeeper and the Professor
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
The Silver Linings Playbook
Year of Wonders
Fifty Shades of Grey
The New York Mormon Single's Halloween Dance
Bel Canto
Change of Heart
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Hunger Games
Tommy's Tale
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Last Lecture
The Help
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
A Very Private Gentleman
Have a Little Faith
The Physik Book of Deliverance Dane
A Reliable Wife
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Swallow the Ocean
The Lost Symbol
Loving Frank
The Poisonwood Bible
The Whistling Season
Eat, Pray, Love
The Book Thief
Shadow of the Wind
Three Cups of Tea
The Friday Night Knitting Club
The Shack
Still Life with Crows
The Historian 
The Other Boleyn Girl
What the Dead Know
No One Belongs Here More Than You
Water for Elephants
The Tortilla Curtain
Shattered Dreams
Notes from a Small Island
The Glass Castle: A Memoir
The Barrytown Trilogy 
Mirror, Mirror 
A Long Way Down 
My Sister’s Keeper 
The Five People You Meet in Heaven 
The Year of Magical Thinking
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter 
In Cold Blood
The Davinci Code
The Birth of Venus 
The Thirteenth Tale
The Family Tree 
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books 
The Kite Runner 
Other People’s Dirt: A Housecleaner’s Curious Adventures 
Little Children 
Love in the Time of Cholera 
Breathing Lessons
The Great and Secret Show 
The Life of Pi 
The Power of One: The Classic Novel of South Africa 
The Time Traveler’s Wife 
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time 
Mrs. Dalloway 
Good Omens 
The Secret Life of Bees

PJ O’Rourke once said, “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”  Some might be a bit trashy, not terribly deep or well written, nonetheless, they’ve all made for great discussion with good company.  I’m always disappointed when the first person decides it’s time to leave…there’s always more to talk about with a book, even one that’s only kind of good.

*For “one-man’s” opinion on the books we have read, check out The Jason Show’s review.  Although I disagree with a few, our tastes are fairly similar so why reinvent the wheel. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Smokey Start to June

With two weeks left of the school year, I’m impatiently looking forward to having more time to play in the art room, declutter the house (again), and most importantly…not work. 

Even working, May was somewhat productive creatively.  Here’s my May calendar for The Kathryn Wheel’s Calendar Challenge.
stuff 351 And a couple of pages in my journal…
stuff 349_1 I had only worked on the background in April and finished the page this month. 
stuff 350This last week, I was luckily (or unluckily for my wallet) introduced to Dylusionals Spray Inks by Ranger.  OMG!  I am addicted.  I made this little tri-fold journal with stencils, Dylusionals, gesso, and a little acrylic paint for accents.  I foresee these spray inks in my future.
stuff 352stuff 353 stuff 354 stuff 355 stuff 356 stuff 357I haven’t made a card for months.  Then in May I was notified that 10 of the colors that I use for card marking are being retired.   Of course, I have a new pack of paper in almost every single one of those colors.  I spent a weekend hammering out as many cards as I could with some of those colors, just to use them up. 
stuff 359 It looks like I’ve got birthday and Christmas gifts covered for the year.

Thursday afternoon, a fire started about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.  Luckily, it began in a sparsely populated area and structures were not in any great danger.  However, our winds and dry weather have kicked in making fighting it very difficult.  This morning we found out it grew from 5,000 acres to 20,000 overnight.  We’re in no danger from it, but it is just ominous, even from here.
stuff 347

stuff 348 Driving into my neighborhood…the smoke and ash creeping across Los Angeles county.  Fire season has started early this year.