Monday, February 28, 2011

Wuv, Twue Wuv

If you've ever seen the movie The Princess Bride, then you know that the title to this post is from that movie. Stein can quote just about the whole movie when it's on (which is frequently), and I love to see his face light up when his favorite parts are on.

We're not sappy people, so holidays like Valentine's Day and Sweetest Day and every other "lovey" holiday in-between usually pass without much notice. Valentine's Day usually brings with it a healthy dose of chocolate in our house. As if we need another excuse for buying chocolate. ( Ahem.) So a card, a kiss, and some chocolate usually suffices.

This year I wrapped up some things for Stein for Valentine's Day. (His birthday is the day before, so any gift overflow is usually given on Valentine's Day.) I set the gift in my closet and thought I would wait until we both were home from work to give it to him. As I made my way down the stairs to make breakfast for myself that morning, I noticed some light coming from the dining room which is normally dark. As I turned the corner, I saw this on the dining room table:
I think I may have said, "Awwww" out loud to myself too. All of my favorite candies. He thought of this and set this up the night before. I wish I could've been a fly on the wall and seen his face while he orchestrated this whole thing.

Suddenly the gift-wrapped box in my closet seemed pretty generic. But that was okay. That's how our relationship is. One person may have a great idea and be creative, but it doesn't mean that the other person needs to one-up the other. The receiver of the creativity can bask in the fun of it all. And then maybe start concocting a plan for the next time...

Wuv. Twue Wuv. Reason #3,467 why I married that man.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Slowing Down, Stepping Back

The life of a teacher revolves around the curriculum that needs to be taught in his/her district/state. In my district, we are given rough schedules of what should be taught at certain times of the year. It's not written in stone, rather it's a guideline to use while navigating through the year. Subjects like math and history follow a pretty straight line. Lessons are taught in succession and build on each other over time. Subjects like science and writing can be taught out of order and can fit around the more rigid schedules of the other subjects.

I teach a special reading class to a small group of fifth graders while the rest of my class goes to reading with the other two fifth-grade teachers. The format of this reading class is like math and history: there are certain things I must teach, in a certain order, and the schedule of the class follows a certain structure as well. There isn't a ton of room for creativity, which sometimes makes it hard to do day in and day out. I like to exercise my creative side every now and then. The flip side of this, though, is that this doesn't require a great amount of planning on my part because it's all laid out for me.

Because most of our schedules are pretty tight and somewhat disjointed with kids going here and there, there is a lack of continuity throughout our days and weeks. I can't say to the class, "Remember when we read about the Egyptians last week?" Only four of the kids would know what I was talking about. The district suggests that we do a lot of cross-curricular learning in part because the curriculum is so large and tight, which makes total sense and is what's best for learning. Yet in my case, it is nearly impossible.

This past week, we had a change in schedule when I was with my class for reading. We were able to use some of that time for writing. We were able to have a discussion during some of the time about an important topic. We were able to take our time, rather than rush to get things cleaned up so we could move to the next subject on the schedule. I felt more relaxed. The kids felt more at ease. Honestly, I felt like we all were more creative.

I want to say that I'm not complaining, nor am I saying that there is only one way to teach or learn. But I am saying that for the two days this week when I had some time to slow down, step back, and gain a new perspective, it just felt good. I'm thankful I had the opportunity.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Labor of Love

Remember this picture? I took it in September after I spent hours with a group of friends canning tomatoes. It was a labor of love, for sure. Yet deep in tomato season, I didn't realize just how much of a labor of love it was.

Fast forward to this week: more than a foot of snow on the ground, temps in the single digits or below zero, and me having a bad case of cabin fever. My new obsession with snowshoeing has curbed the cabin fever a bit, but not all of it. If given the choice, I would gladly be on a beach right now, or in a backyard somewhere, I'm not going to be picky.

The tomatoes have been sitting on a shelf in the basement since I made them. I've been rationing them, in a way. I figure I need to spread the fresh tomato love throughout the winter and well into spring. Maybe one a month, and then it will be time for spring vegetables and fruits. Which will lead to summer fruits and vegetables. And more tomatoes.

So last night, in an effort to procrastinate doing some schoolwork, I made this bolognese sauce. As I popped the lid off the jar of tomatoes to add it to the sauce, I took a whiff of the freshness. They smelled so much different than canned tomatoes from the store. It was like I added some sunshine to the pot on the stove. (Remember when those cans of sunshine from Florida were really popular? Do they still sell those?) When I took a taste of the sauce once the flavors melded together, I said to myself, "Mmmm. Yes." It was perfect.

Perfect for a mid-winter's night. Perfect for procrastinating. Perfect for embracing cabin fever.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Birthday Week Begins

Happy Birthday week to Stein! In honor of the birthday boy, here is a list of some of the great memories that we have made together. And because I am feeling some cabin fever and in need of a vacation, this list has a vacation theme, too:

  • Being in Seattle, afraid of heights (me) on the Space Needle.
  • Drinking wine with Chris, Steve and Kate in Napa.
  • Skiing in Colorado and eating lunch outside on the sunny mountainside at Winter Park.
  • Sitting on the deck of the USS Missouri in Honolulu, eating dinner and listening to a big band play.
  • Eating the best paella I've ever had and getting sunburned in April at an outside cafe in Madrid.
  • Tromping around Gaudi Park in Barcelona.
  • Walking on hardened lava cautiously (me) and watching flowing lava in Hawaii.
  • Being the only people on a beach in Naples, FL because the temps were too low for the locals.
  • Cubs spring training games in Arizona.
  • A day in Sedona with a Pink Jeep tour, a drink at the Enchantment resort, and a beautiful sunset on the red rocks.
  • Eating pancakes at Pamela's in Pittsburgh.
  • Laughing with our friends while eating crab in Maryland.
  • Watching a football game at Penn State. Twice. One time arriving in style in a metallic green Mustang.
  • Sitting in adirondack chairs on the lawn of Mission Resort on Mackinac Island.
  • Walking around the monuments of DC at night. On more than one occasion.
  • Eating dinner on the grounds of the union at Marquette on a beautiful summer night.
  • Watching sunsets for five consecutive days up north, each night different than the next.
  • Sitting on the beach in Maui for hours reading, sleeping, sunning, swimming.
  • Cruising down the mountain in Maui on bicycles, shedding layers of clothes as we went.
  • Wandering around Quebec City with nowhere to go.
  • Watching a game at Fenway Park in Boston.
And the list goes on and on...