Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Okay, This is Getting Ridiculous

I wrote in a previous post about the amount of catalogs that we've been receiving this holiday season. Actually, it started before the holiday season, sometime around Halloween. It hasn't stopped. Everyday, we get at least 3 catalogs, from all different places.

I mentioned to Stein how wasteful it is for all this paper to be used. We're lucky here in Ann Arbor to have curbside recycling. Every week, the city collects our paper, cans, bottles, and plastic containers. I keep thinking about people who don't recycle or don't have it conveniently picked up every week. What happens to all those catalogs? More importantly, what happened to all those trees? I just recently saw a piece on the news about calling to have all these catalogs cancelled. Like I have the time to sit and call every place. Just add it to my list of things to do...

To give you an idea of some of the catalogs we've received, here is a list of the ones we still have around from the past week or so:

The Popcorn Factory (x3)
Sahalie (an REI-type store)
LL Bean
Pajama Gram (all pajamas)
Pier 1
Pottery Barn (x2)
Hamacher Schlemmer
Mrs. Prindable's Apples ($20 caramel apples!)
Harry and David
Cheryl & Co.
The Fruit Company
Land's End (x2)
Eddie Bauer
Sharper Image
Crate and Barrel (x2)
Uncommon Goods

Stop the madness!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Blanket of White

I obviously still need to work on focusing with my new camera, but I just got a handle on how to download and then upload images. It wasn't too bad, especially since I used to have a similar camera and remembered most of what to do.

This picture was taken by me this morning before I left for school. It was cloudy and the camera wanted to use the flash as I tried to get a shot of my neighbor's tree and bushes. We got some snow last night and periodically during the day today. It was a really wet snow, so it outlined the trees nicely. I can't believe that less than a week ago there were still some colored leaves clinging to the branches. Now all the trees are completely bare.

School today went really well, especially since I only had to teach 2 subjects! I also had my last observation with my advisor and that went pretty well too. I was pleasantly surprised with the kid's attention spans. Hopefully it was a reflection on the content and structure of my lesson!

I did notice today that they acted a lot better with Linda than they did with me. At first I was a little miffed that they were acting differently with her than me, but then I let go of that. She will have them for the rest of the year. I will be back periodically to sub, but for the most part, I am done. It's time to move on. Did they test me? You bet they did. Every step of the way. And you know what? I'm glad. It makes the experience that much more authentic. It also makes the end of it all that much sweeter. My confidence has increased, and I can say that I made it through some pretty tough days. That feels good.

The next big assignment that is due is my portfolio. This will hold all of my accomplishments, philosophies, pictures, etc. from my time in school and student teaching. It's been a good exercise to get everything ready to put in the portfolio. It has helped me to organize my thoughts and reflect about my experience. Now the tricky part will be putting it all together in an organized, creative way. I found myself in the scrap booking aisles at Michael's yesterday. Don't ask. I was looking for inspiration on themes. I found myself overwhelmed with cutesy. No offense to any of you scrap bookers (or whatever the proper name is), but there is a lot of stuff that goes with scrap booking. I had no idea.

Until next post... Happy winter to all, and to all a good night!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


The past few weeks we have been getting the house ready for winter mode. The humidifiers have made their way upstairs, the storm windows have been cleaned and put up, the fireplace has been cleared of candles and readied for fires, and the feather bed and flannel sheets have made their way to the bed. It's a good thing, too, since the temperatures have dipped into the 20's and 30's lately.

While I don't like winter because of the cold, I do like winter because of the feeling of cozy. I love to bundle up in comfy clothes and blankets and hunker down. Our couch is pretty conducive to hunkering down. It's a sectional, so Stein and I can each stretch out while watching TV. The overstuffed cushions envelope you until all that's left is to surrender to the comfort and sit for at least an hour. As I type this, Stein is napping at one end of the couch and I am wrapped up in a blanket under the laptop at the other end.

And then there's the bed. We have a feather bed and flannel sheets. I never knew what feather beds were until I heard the song "Grandma's Feather Bed" by John Denver as a kid. I still have visions of John Denver singing this song on a big bed with a bunch of Muppets when he was on the Muppet Show. It wasn't until I was traveling a lot that I realized what a luxurious addition feather beds can be. Stein bought one for me a few Christmases ago, and I love it. Not only does it make the bed lofty and soft, it also makes it warm. That, combined with flannel sheets, just makes for a good-night's sleep.

Last night Stein made the first fire of the year in the fireplace. There's something so calming about fires. And so warm. We assumed our positions on the couch (me under a blanket of course) and settled in for a night of watching college football. The warmth of the fire warmed the room and magnified the coziness. Just how I like winter. Inside, warm, and cozy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I'm Full

Another Thanksgiving come and gone. Another Thanksgiving of overeating. And over drinking.

Yesterday was really fun. Matt and Anne's house was crowded with people, about 20 in all. The nieces and nephews ran up and down the stairs, happy to be with their cousins, happy to be with kids other than their siblings. The adults nibbled on appetizers and drank cocktails while the turkey baked to perfection. Anne pulled the turkey out of the oven and my mother-n-law said, "Oh, it looks exactly like it should look." My other sister-n-law Nancy and I joked by saying, "Thank God, I really thought it was going to look like a goat."

We all sat at one big table. Matt and Anne cleared the couch out of the living room and set up their dining room table plus 2 other folding tables there. It was pretty cool once everyone sat down. Although talking to everyone at the table was impossible.

Stein and I fretted over how many batches of green bean casserole to make. We decided on 2 big batches, and quickly realized as we sat down to dinner that it was too much. In addition to the Brussels sprouts that we also brought, there was 2 kinds of rolls, mashed potatoes, 2 kinds of stuffing, salad, sweet potatoes, and of course turkey. I had a little of everything on my plate, and my plate was covered. Delicious. For dessert, we had a choice of pumpkin, apple, or sour-cream apple pies, and vanilla or pumpkin creme brulee (made by our niece Claire). I crave anything pumpkin in the fall, so I had a nice slice of pumpkin pie with a big dollop of whipped cream, and then had the pumpkin creme brulee. Yum, yum, and yum.

Stein and I waddled to the car, our stomachs protruding from our coats. We got home, jumped immediately into pajamas and onto the couch, and were sleeping by 10:00. Thank you, gluttony.

Today, Stein and I went to the gym to attempt to work off a bit of the food we ate last night. I think maybe a spoonful of gravy was worked off in my 40-minute ride on the elliptical machine. I even ventured out to a store today, on "Black Friday" (by the way, since when is the Friday after Thanksgiving called Black Friday by retailers?). I'm not one of those shoppers who was out at the stores at midnight, or 4am (yes, there were stores around here open at those times). In fact, I really don't enjoy shopping. Unless it's grocery shopping. I can do that anytime. Shopping for me is like this: if I need something, I'll go to the store and buy it, but I really don't enjoy meandering in and out of stores just looking.

Anyway, I returned the camera that Stein bought me for my birthday because I wanted a smaller version. So today, what started out as an innocent search online for a new camera, ended up in a trip to Best Buy. On the busiest shopping day of the year. I set my expectations low when I was driving over there. I thought that I would have to weasel my way into the camera area and wait for at least a half hour for a salesperson to help me. I was pleasantly surprised when walked right up to the camera counter and then within 5 minutes had a salesperson helping me get what I needed. I did have to wait in line about 10 minutes to pay, but that wasn't bad at all, considering my prediction. As the cashier rang up my items, she took off the discount for the competitor's price (I luckily spotted the camera at a competitor for $20 cheaper), but didn't give me the sales price for the additional memory card I bought. "It must have been the pre-noon sale," she said. I nodded like I knew what she was talking about. As I gathered my bag and started walking out of the store, I stopped at the display with the sale flayers. I wanted to double check that the memory card was part of the pre-noon sale. That was the case, but then I saw a memory card with double the memory on sale for less than the regular price of the other one! Cha-ching! I headed over to the exchange desk and completed my transaction. I am now a proud owner of a digital camera (pictures to be posted soon) with enough memory to store about 1200 pictures! Thank you, Stein.

I got home, and made a turkey sandwich. As a rule, the day after Thanksgiving, my lunch consists of turkey and mayonnaise on toast, with chips and a coke. Yum.

I also read some magazines. Christmas magazines. As a tradition, my mom, aunt, sisters and I read Christmas magazines the day after Thanksgiving. It kind of kicks off the start of the Christmas season for me (never before today, as you already know). We buy Ladies Home Journal, Woman's Day, and the like. We read them for the heart-warming Christmas stories of tragedies saved by "angels" and families drawn closer together by the magic of Christmas. It's sappy, but I love it. And it's a tradition. This year, I'm a little disappointed by the magazines. Not one of them had a story (fiction or non) that made me cry. Not one of them had even a story that warmed my heart. I feel gypped. Oh well, maybe loading up the stereo with Christmas Cd's will help...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Oh, how I love Thanksgiving. I'll even venture to say that I like it more than Christmas. Then again, the presents. I'll have to think more about that statement. I had a conversation with a woman at school the other day about Thanksgiving. "It's a nice holiday," she said. "There's no pressure." And I have to agree. There are no presents involved, or expectations. There's just good food and good people.

Growing up, my family and I would gather around the TV to watch the Macy's Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning. My family loved parades (and I think still does). It's kind of like our love of Broadway plays. (yes, I know, I still need to write about this in a post...) As we watched the parade, my mom would be in the kitchen getting things ready for the day. The dinner would either be at our house or my aunt's, with grandma, grandpa, cousins, and great aunts. We always loved when it was at our house, because it meant that we could stay in our pajamas until the last possible minute before the guests arrived. At dinnertime, kids would be situated at the kids' table, and the grown-ups around the big table. As kids we would race through our dinners so we could play. The grown-ups would linger over their dinners, talking and laughing. Then they would linger over coffee and dessert, talking and laughing. Eventually, I learned to do the same.

As a kid, I thought that Thanksgivings would be the same, every year, with the same people, until I was really old. I didn't take into account in my naivete, that things change, people move, life happens. To copy a bit from Karen, here are some of my memorable Thanksgivings:

A couple years while in high school, I celebrated Thanksgiving in North Carolina with Andy and Denise and my mom and aunt. I think it was at that time that I realized that people did things differently on holidays. (And that putting slabs of butter all over the turkey wasn't such a bad idea.)

One year in college, we drove to New York to have Thanksgiving dinner at Rick's. In a small apartment in Jersey City, we had our Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, Rick got it ready while we were at the Macy's Day Parade. That was exciting, being at the parade that I had only seen on TV!

And two years in a row, Stein and I were lucky to have Thanksgiving dinner in Hawaii. The first year we had the traditional turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes (and some poi for kicks). But the second year, we had some of the best fresh fish at Mama's Fish House. I consider that Thanksgiving one of my favorites.

This year will be more traditional at Matt and Anne's. I started my morning in honor of that. I stayed in my pajamas, and turned on the Macy's Day Parade. Later today, Stein and I will make the vegetables we're bringing, just like my mom did when I was a kid. And then we'll sit around at the grown-ups table at Matt and Anne's eating and drinking, talking and laughing. Then we'll linger over coffee and dessert, and talk and laugh.

You know, that's what it's all about. Celebrating what we all are thankful for. The food, the friends, the family. How fortunate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Slowing Down

Can you believe it? I finished my solo weeks of student teaching yesterday. Although it was a pretty anti-climactic day, it felt so good when it was over. I started getting excited on Tuesday night when I realized the end was near. I was also excited because I knew the next day would be a little more relaxed since it was the day before Thanksgiving break. I printed out tons of activity sheets (mostly math ones) and turkey bingo. I was prepared. In fact, I was overly prepared. Matt, the other 4th grade teacher, said to me once, "It's better to be over prepared." He's so right. It just makes me feel better, knowing that I can deal with most things that come up.

I woke up excited to go to school. I haven't had that feeling since I was a kid in school. We had an assembly in the morning, so Linda helped to prep the kids before. As she took over the morning meeting, she said, "Sorry, I'm just having a lot of fun with them." Have at it, I thought. I was supposed to be solo, but I let go. I was solo for a good 8 or so days out of the 10 (not counting the 6 days that I was solo with a sub), and I gained the confidence that I need. Like a good grandma at the end of a visit, it was time to give the kids back. I did manage to do some teaching, but not a lot. We gave the kids a lot of time to play yesterday. They needed a break and so did we. It was fun just to play together.

At the end of the day, I felt really tired. After having dinner, I was asleep on the couch by about 8:30! I think my body was telling me that it's time to slow down. Finally.

This morning I slept in until 7:00. I didn't have to rush anywhere. I didn't need to be anywhere, except for my massage at noon. I was able to go work out (which I haven't done in a week and 1/2) and then eat a leisurely breakfast.

On the way to my massage, I heard a report on NPR about how most people on average travel at least 50 miles (mostly by car) to go to Thanksgiving. I smiled and felt lucky as I thought about our plans for tomorrow. We'll be traveling to Matt and Anne's house. They live four blocks away.

Before the massage, I stopped by the farmer's market to look for Brussels sprouts. We're bringing a vegetable to Matt and Anne's tomorrow, so in addition to the traditional green bean casserole, we're bringing these Brussels sprouts:,,FOOD_9936_24942,00.html

At the farmer's market, there were a lot of people rushing around getting last minute things for the holiday. I felt so lucky to be able to meander through the market, looking at all the root vegetables, breads, and pies ready to be eaten. I didn't need to carry a list and cross things off. I didn't need to rush. I could just take it all in. I helped a woman get herself situated after trying to juggle the groceries in her bags. "I have an 18 pound turkey in my bag," she huffed as she shifted her bags. Again, I thought how lucky I was. All I have is 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts in my bag.

Then I had my massage. Ah, how luxurious that felt. The masseuse used the hot stones to get into my muscles. The weather outside today was rainy, grey, and chilly. A perfect day to be inside in a warm room on a warm table being warmed by hot stones. She even put little stones in between my toes at one point. I never had that done in the previous hot stone massages I've had. Boy, did that feel good on my normally frigid feet. I told the masseuse that I just finished a tough couple of weeks and that my back and shoulders were probably pretty tight. She worked on my back and shoulders to get out all the knots. Judging from the work that she did, I bet some of my muscles resembled some of the gnarly, twisted vegetables I saw at the farmer's market. Afterward, I sort of floated slowly down the street. I felt really light, like the massage helped to let everything go. It definitely helped me to slow down.

I came home, ate some lunch, and took time to make dinner. This whole day has felt like a luxury to me. It's been too long since I've had the luxury of time. In the past 3 months, everything has felt rushed. From sleep, to eating, to making dinner (the few times I have actually made dinner). Today felt like a gift to me. Something that I was waiting for and finally got. Boy, did it feel good.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Celebration Continues

Chris and Linda came to visit this weekend. I love when they come, because I feel like I have them all to myself and we can all really catch up together. I feel fortunate that we live so close to Chicago, since it allows me to see them during the year. But when we go there, we have a lot of people to see and places to go, and it doesn't allow a lot of time to catch up. That's what this weekend was all about. Catching up.

Oh, and eating. That's also what this weekend was all about. Stein started it off on Friday night when he came home from watching our niece swim in the state finals. He bounded through the door with FOUR cakes from Cold Stone Creamery. Yes, four cakes. Granted, three of them were smallish cakes, but still. My teeth started to hurt when I looked inside the bag. There was a chocolate chip, a mint, a velvet, and a peanut butter and chocolate cake. I was in heaven.

As Linda, Chris and I continued talking, Stein told me to go out to the car to meet my nephew who was holding another birthday cake. You see, there was a slight mix-up (in my favor) which led my sister-n-law to make a cake in addition to the four cakes that Stein got from Cold Stone. So I also had a chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting. I was in heaven. Again.

Saturday morning, we went over to Matt and Anne's to tailgate before the U-M game. Boy, were we glad that we weren't going to the game. 40 degrees and rainy is not my kind of football-watching weather. Stein braved the elements to go. Unfortunately, it wasn't to watch a victory. Rats.

Jane and Shark were also in town, so Jane joined us while Shark went to the game. After watching some of the game at Matt and Anne's, we headed downtown for a little shopping and to catch the last part of the game. Inside. At a warm bar. Drinking beers. Ahhh. I made a toast at one point by saying, "I'm so excited to have you here and to be able to do this. Really, I'm just giddy." It was true. That's one of my favorite things. Good friends having good times. Just hanging out, catching up.

After the game, Shark, Dean and Stein came and met us. We all hung out together, catching up some more. Shark, Jane and Dean eventually went home, and Stein did too. So Linda, Chris and I went out for some dinner and talked some more. Really, I don't think we would ever run out of things to talk about. The conversation always flows that easily. You know you're with good friends when this happens. You don't want them to leave. You just want to talk and talk. And laugh. Oh, did we laugh. There's nothing like the laughter you have with good friends. Again, I am thankful to have them in my life.

Chris and Linda left early on Sunday morning, and Stein and I stayed close to the couch all day. I needed to get some things done for school, but other than that, I caught up on some sleep and also on the cake(s). After breakfast? Have some cake! After lunch? Have some cake! After dinner? Have some cake!

Oh, what a weekend. Food, friends, and fun. Wonderful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Birthday and Bargain

Sorry, couldn't help the alliteration there. I'm a big fan of it, as is my mom. For example, she always names her cars. She had Teddy Taurus, Abbey Accord, and Caty Camry. I'm not sure what their current car is named...

Anyway, I digress. Yesterday was a great day. My friend Julie said that she always thought my birthday should be a national holiday, and here it was. Well, I guess the holiday wasn't in honor of me, but it still felt as important. Stein greeted me in the morning before the alarm went off. Then Linda wished me a happy birthday and handed me presents. One was a Love and Logic book for teachers (was that a hint?!) and the other was a Dave Matthews double CD that she actually wanted.

Would you believe that 2 girls in my class also had a birthday yesterday? What are the chances? We got to celebrate their birthdays with treats. We tell parents to only bring in healthy snacks, so the first one did. We enjoyed chips, salsa, and guacamole. I thought that was a great idea. The other girl didn't follow the healthy snack rule. She brought in cupcakes from Sam's Club. They were cute, with a swirl of thick, sugary frosting and a Hello Kitty ring on each one. I waited until the last possible moment in the afternoon to have them. Linda also had the good idea of enjoying them outside at recess. It was great!

When I turned on my phone at the end of the day, I had a lot of messages from people wishing me a happy birthday. Then, when I got home, more messages waited on our answering machine. I also got calls from my mom and Mickey when I was home. This is one reason I love birthdays. You just feel special. Really special. Stein said, "Do you want a present?" and shot his eyes toward 2 wrapped gifts on the coffee table. "Sure!" I said, not wanting to be greedy by grabbing and ripping them open. That's the other thing about birthdays. They make me feel like I'm six again. Politeness flies out the window. I think, "Do I really have to open the card first?"

After reading a beautiful card, I ripped open the first present. A camera. A digital camera! Hooray! I don't have to keep asking Stein to bring home his work camera. I can finally take pictures of what I'm talking about in my blog. I can finally take pictures in my classroom that I can use in my portfolio. I was so excited. Giddy, in fact. Like those times as a kid when you hoped for something, dropped numerous hints, but never thought you would get it. And when you did, it was like a shock at first. The second present was a case for the camera and an extra memory card. Now that's thinking.

Stein asked me this weekend if I wanted to go to dinner on Monday, and I told him I would see how I felt after school. The day went pretty well, much better than last week, so I was up for going out. Linda told us that the restaurants downtown (that are owned by the same company) offer a special on your birthday. They give you a discount on food. We opted for an Italian restaurant. We didn't want to seem like cheapskates, or the blue-hairs at a Florida buffet, so we thought of a plan. I would go to the bathroom, and Stein would casually order a dessert for my birthday. In a roundabout way, the waiter would know it was my birthday, without me coming out and saying, "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! WHERE'S MY DISCOUNT?"

So, after a great dinner, the waiter brought over a cannoli with a candle in it. He then asked if my birthday was actually yesterday and asked for my i.d. as proof. When our bill came, 50% of our food bill was taken off! As we looked around, we saw 4 other tables doing the same. When we exchanged birthday greetings with the couple at the table next to ours, they gave us the skinny on the deal. "You can double dip," she said. "We always do lunch at one of the restaurants, and dinner at another." Stein and I looked at each other and laughed. We know where we'll be going for his birthday!

When we got home from the restaurant, more messages waited. I heard from more family and friends. What a great ending to a great birthday. I felt special again. Really special.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stop the Madness!

It all started on Halloween. I was buying our Halloween candy (I can't buy it until that day because we usually eat it all before) at Target. As I ran through the store looking for the "Halloween aisle" I noticed another aisle already set up. The Christmas aisle.

I couldn't believe it. The Christmas aisle? Christmas was practically two months away! And Halloween hadn't passed yet. I started feeling a bit rushed, a bit frantic. I like to ease into the season of Christmas, making preparations, slowly browsing stores for things I know my friends and family will like. But standing there in Target, I felt like the retail gods were saying, "Buy now! You're running out of time! All of this 'stuff' is going to be gone in no time!" I looked away from the Christmas aisle and walked quickly to the check-out counter. I was then accosted by the display of Christmas M&M's.

The next straw is the massive amount of catalogs that we have received in the mail this year. I think every mailing list that we are on has been sold to every possible catalog company. Stein and I have agreed that this year is the worst in terms of quantity. Everyday when we open the mailbox, there are at least 3 catalogs. I'm afraid that one day it's going to be like a scene from Harry Potter, where they start coming in through the chimney and doors, like Harry's letters from Hogwarts. I can't even tell you what companies they are from. Most end up in the recycle bin after we only peruse the cover.

I also noticed that Coca Cola has gotten into the act at our local Kroger. I'm a Coca Cola girl myself (when I do indulge in pop), so I normally love everything Coca Cola. I walked into the store the other day and noticed that they had all of the cases of Coke stacked up forming a wall near the entrance. But it wasn't just a random stack of Coke cases. The different colors of the cases (grey, red, and white) when put together, all made a picture of a snowman. How clever, I thought. How time consuming, I thought. How early, I thought.

The last straw was last night. As Stein was flipping through the stations between football games, he stumbled on TBS. He saw the ending of a famous Christmas cartoon. Yes, I said Christmas cartoon. He saw the ending of the Grinch. I couldn't believe it.

It's not Thanksgiving yet. That's the cut-off for starting the Christmas season in my world. Let me enjoy the season like it's meant to be enjoyed. Slowly. In my own time. In my own way. Doing and watching and buying what I want.

Friday, November 9, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes

Since I didn't teach all day today, I felt a lot better. It was nice to have the break and put things in perspective. Linda asked if I wanted to teach a little of the math lesson before I left for my workshop, and I said no. It felt so good saying that word.

My workshop this afternoon was great. It was with all the other student teachers in the area. It's always so nice to get together with them. We can commiserate, laugh, and share ideas together. It's reassuring to know that you're not the only person out there.

We're off to the football game in Chelsea (Stein's hometown) tonight. They're in the regionals. Go Bulldogs!

Also, Stein made another good dinner last night (in addition to bringing me a pint of Ben and Jerry's for the bad day I had). We decided that the spice of the chorizo is perfect with the somewhat blandness of the pork chops. Oh mama, it's good, and satisfies the chorizo addiction I've had lately. Here's the recipe if you want to try it:,,FOOD_9936_36232,00.html

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

Ah, yes. The solo weeks started this week. This was supposed the "easy" week, wasn't it? The week when I had only three days of teaching? Yeah, not so much.

Monday went fine. Linda really didn't stay out of the room completely, but managed to stay out enough for the kids to know that I was the one in charge. She admits she has a hard time losing control, which I've heard is not unusual for teachers. I get it.

Tuesday the kids were off, but we had meetings in the morning and parent/teacher conferences in the afternoon. Yesterday went okay. I even managed to get through the math lesson, although the kids were looking at me like I had five heads and acted up to show this. My girls with attitude were in rare form too. Just another day in 4th grade.

Then the lights went out.

Well, they didn't actually go out, thanks to the generator. They went brown. So, just before lunch, I had to call my advisor to tell her the news. You see, I was supposed to be observed yesterday. And the lesson I was to teach? Most of it was on powerpoint. How was I going to pull that off? Have the class of kids gather around my laptop and hope that the battery doesn't die? No thanks. In all of my classes I have been taught to have a back-up plan in case things with technology don't work out. My back-up plan? Reschedule. Besides, the kids were off the hook. It was like they never had the electricity go out.

We got through the afternoon, after revamping some of the schedule. Linda took over a little more since I never encountered a "crisis" yet.

Then today came. I couldn't sleep this morning, so I got up early and got to school by 7:00 am. I was going to be prepared today. I was going to get everything I needed to be done for the day and then have time to get things together before my observation. The kids had art for an hour this morning, so I had even more time. I got everything set up, I was ready. The kids were a little crazed this morning, but it was understandable since Linda wasn't there. Oh yeah, I forgot that part. Linda took the day off.

I told the kids that my advisor was coming in to observe me and also observe them. I thought that may have been the key to getting them in order. Apparently not.

When I said they were off the hook yesterday, I don't know what I was thinking. Today they were downright crazy. I pulled out all the stops. I tried everything. I was polite. I was firm. I asked kids to "help me out". Nothing worked. Nothing. I finally told my advisor that I was going to be splitting this lesson into two parts and the first part was ending. NOW. I wrapped up the session and had the sub take the kids out to recess.

Then I got all the feedback from my advisor. She had mostly good things to say, knowing the circumstances involved. About five minutes into our meeting, the floodgates opened. I lost it. She always says that she carries kleenex with herself for such times. I always told myself that I "would never need them". Today I needed them. She was really nice and listened to me while I vented. A lot of things have been frustrating me lately, and I just had it. It all came out in tears. I pulled myself together, just in time to have the sub come back and tell me 2 of the kids got in a fight and were in the office. Just in time for the rest of the kids to come back from computers and be off the walls yet once again.

Tomorrow I have my workshop, so I won't be teaching anything. I'm grateful for the break. The only thing I keep thinking is, how am I going to last for 5 days next week and then the 2 days before Thanksgiving?

Mama also said this too shall pass. That's what I'm counting on.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What a Nice Boy, That Stein

I really like birthdays. I really get into birthdays. It could be my birthday, it could be friends' or family members' birthdays. It doesn't matter. I just like the celebration, the cake and the cards, and the presents. My sister Mickey and I love presents. I don't care if you wrapped up an old shoe in a box and gave it to me. (Actually, I would care - so don't think about it.)

Stein doesn't really get into birthdays. Or he didn't, until he met me. The first year we were dating, my birthday came first and he did really well with it. I don't know if it was the constant reminders that my birthday was approaching, or what. I still wear the earrings (almost daily) that he gave me. Then, when his birthday came next, I made a big deal about it. He tells me every year that I shouldn't make a big deal about it, but I can't help it. It's fun.

When the subject comes up around other people, Stein jokes that not only do I think my birthday should last for the week prior to and the day of, but that it should be a birthday month. Well, in honor of that theory, he has been giving me gifts every week starting a month ago.

The first week, he handed me a card. When I opened it and saw that it was a birthday card, I thought maybe there was a mistake. When I opened it, he had written, "One more month until your birthday!" Oh, how fun. How thoughtful. The present was equally thoughtful. A travel soap dish. A purple travel soap dish. He told me that my travel soap dish, the one I've had since I started working at Einstein's, was ready to be thrown out because it was broken. So now I have the replacement.

The second week, he handed me another birthday card. And with the birthday card, was another present. It was new earphones for my iPod. Just a week before, I noticed that I was only hearing my music through one ear because the earphone cord was spliced somehow. He knew that I needed new ones.

And this week, oh my. He handed me another card. And in the card, it said he made an appointment for me for a massage the day after I finish my solo weeks. So the day before Thanksgiving, I will be getting a hot stone massage. What a luxury. He knew, yet again, what I needed.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is reason #527 why I married him.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


I just googled myself (procrastinating yet again) and came up with this (look on page 7):

It's a brochure for a leadership seminar that I attended in 2006 when I worked for Einstein's. Apparently, they took my comments from the evaluation form and put them on the brochure. Very strange. I obviously had no idea.

This Old House

My brother Bryan and his family live in the house where we grew up. So yesterday we went to his house to get together. It's weird, yet comforting to be in that little bungalow on Sunnyside. I spent nearly 20 years of my life there. It's weird, because it's the house I know, yet it's a lot different and I don't live there. Sometimes it feels like I'm in a dream and I'm just floating above it, looking down. Very surreal, to put a label on it.

Although Bryan and Pat have made a lot of changes in the house, the many intricacies of the house remain. It's pretty amazing how these things just come back to you when you're in a place that's so familiar. It's funny how I just know that you have to step down to get from one part of the basement to another, or how I know where the light switch is for the back porch, or that certain doors require a little oomph to get open.

I did notice something yesterday that I never paid attention to. We went for a walk at one point to look at a house that's for sale in the neighborhood. Mickey, Rick, and I talked about houses we've been in and what the neighbors who lived in those houses were like. We shared stories of the insides of houses, and the houses we wanted to see. I listened and talked, yet I kept noticing that something was different in the neighborhood. I couldn't quite put a finger on it. It finally dawned on me. The neighborhood was different. Not only had I grown, but the neighborhood had grown. The trees are much more mature now, trees that were pretty young when we were running around playing. The grown trees, combined with me being grown up, made the neighborhood seem really small yesterday. I had such a different perspective of the place. The place that once was so familiar, now seemed unfamiliar.

When we got back to Bryan's, I shared this thought with my Mom. She felt the same way. "The streets seem so narrow, don't they?" she asked. I agreed. We talked about the mature trees, the narrow streets, and that everything looked different. Again, the surreal feeling came back. It's like the past and the present are combining, but the lines are blurred. It's really hard to distinguish one from the other.

For dinner, Bryan made my Mom's sloppy joes. It was such a nostalgic meal to be eating in that house. After dinner, we sat around the dinner table to have chocolate eclair cake dessert, yet another nostalgic food. Memories flood my brain when I'm in that house. I looked around and remembered holidays celebrated there. Hanging around the adults while they lingered over coffee and dessert after the meal, listening to the stories they told. Sitting at the kids table and laughing with my cousins. Or the bridge parties my parents had at the house. We were forbidden to eat any of the "party food" before the party started, and hoped the guests wouldn't have seconds of the dessert so we could have the leftovers.

That Old House has so much in it. So many memories. So many feelings. So many celebrations. So many experiences. So much learned. So much love. So much family.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Catching Up

We're heading to Chicago this morning. Stein is sleeping, so I figured this would be a good time to catch up on the blog.

I decided it would be best that I stay home last night and do more work on my project. I was getting the stressed-out feeling that really gets to me, and realized I just needed to plow through the project to get rid of the feeling.

After 3 hours of work, I did get a good chunk of it done and now I feel a lot better. I feel a lot clearer about the project, and know that I have Sunday evening to do more preparations for the week. I was also able to get organized around the house, as the project had taken over the dining room. The dining room table was completely consumed by posters, files, markers, and books. Just cleaning that up helped to clear my mind and made me feel organized.

I start my solo weeks this week. I am looking forward to it with excitement and nervousness. As much as being solo with a sub was nerve wracking, I have to say that it has really helped with my confidence. I know that I can teach for a whole day without Linda in the room. The only difference is that I won't have the sub in the room to be the "heavy" for discipline when I'm trying to teach.

This week we have Tuesday off (the kids are off but we have an in-service meeting) and I also have a workshop on Friday afternoon. This works out just fine for me. I can teach a day, and have a day to regroup and prepare. Then I teach two more days and have the weekend to regroup and prepare. Next week will be a different story. And the following week after that which is the two days before Thanksgiving break? I'm expecting complete chaos. The only consolation? I'll be done with my solo teaching as of Tuesday at 3:42 p.m. that week.

As far as this week, I think it went well. I was solo with Linda in the room. She admits that she has a hard time with this, since she wants to jump in and help/teach/discipline. She did have a hard time, but it was okay. There were learning moments for me, moments that I'm hoping will help me in the coming weeks. Next week she will stay out of the classroom completely.

We went on our field trip to the gravel pit this week. It was a great trip, but completely exhausting! Although we only traveled about a 1/2 hour from the school, the kids definitely reacted to being in the "country". "Horses!" they shouted as we passed a farm with one horse in the field. "We're really far away", said the girl who sat next to me on the bus. These kids are definitely city kids. But the sad thing is, they're city kids who don't get out much. They can't.

Being at the gravel pit was fun. The kids had gallon milk containers to put rocks in, and most of them got on the bus dragging a full container of rocks. "Look at this one, Mrs. Steinhauer!" they would say with excitement. I would give them my most enthusiastic reaction as I looked at the plain brown rock they held in their hand. They weren't rock hunting, they were treasure hunting, and they sure found treasures.

We were outside all day, aside from a trip to the geological museum where the kids created all kinds of chaos. After the museum, we went to the nearby cemetery to see the tombstones and how some stones were more worn than others. They had a seek-and-find kind activity where they learned about some of the symbols and deceased in the cemetery.

The next day we went to the woods that are behind our school. There is a really nice loop trail that weaves through the trees and near a pond. We went with our first-grade buddies. The first grade had the assignment of looking for living and non-living things in the woods. They were able to see ducks, geese, squirrels, a spider egg sac, lots of leaves and a real live salamander! It was a beautiful fall day to be in the woods. Brown, yellow, red, and orange leaves swirled in the air before joining their friends on the ground. I got a mini-science lesson from one of the first graders when he told me that trees hibernate in the winter. We all seem to hibernate in the winter, I thought.

Well, that's all the news that's fit to print at this point. I'll try to write more tomorrow when we get back from Chicago. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Keepin' It Short Part 2

Yep, still working on the project. Add going to the woods today to the list of entries to be written...

In the meantime, Stein made 2 great dinners this week. After he made the chili on Sunday, he used some of it to make this recipe:,,FOOD_9936_37349,00.html

I thought it was great, Stein didn't really like it. He didn't know if it was a texture thing, or what. Give it a try to decide for yourself.

And then the next night he made this recipe:,,FOOD_9936_27968,00.html

We both loved the saltiness of the prosciutto combined with the rosemary and chicken. Yum.

We're off to Chicago either tomorrow or Saturday. My Mom and Rich are in town, so we're getting together. I'll try to post after that.

Have a great weekend!