Sunday, November 29, 2009

An Overview of My Break - In Reverse

Happy birthday to me!!! I turned 24 today at 5:30 pm. Woo hoo! For lunch/dinner, my parents and my brother took me to Carabba's. It was sooo good. I like their chicken marsala a lot.

This morning Michelle and Bill took *B* and me out to breakfast at a really awesome cafe called Blue Moon in the city. *B* had Cap'n Crunch French Toast (omgosh) and I had a great omelet.

*B* had promised me a planned party on the day before my birthday. I was a little disappointed when it didn't happen. He got caught up and didn't invite anyone. But his friends Dan and Laura came over and we chowed down on leftovers - turkey korma with samosas using the leftover turkey and mashed potatoes. The boys even polished off the trifle *B* made for dessert on Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, it went really well. Unfortunately, my camera died and I couldn't find the battery charger. But I took pictures with my mom's camera. I'll post them as soon as she sends them to me. We had ten people total, and a 21 pound turkey. There was stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, peas, and sauerkraut. For dessert, there was pumpkin pie, pumpkin gingerbread trifle, chocolate pie, and apple crisp. We still have a full pan of apple crisp, turkey, some peas, sweet potatoes, and curried potatoes, but everything else is gone. My dad and his parents got on well. I'm glad to see their year long feud has at least taken a hiatus. Right after everyone left, *B* and I pulled out Christmas boxes and started watching DVDs and decorate. I love the holidays! I can't believe it's almost Christmas!

Before that, my mom and I painted my upstairs bathroom. It looks so good! It needs one more coat, which will probably be done during the Christmas break. Again, as soon as I find my charger, I'll post pictures.

One of my first activities once the break started was to go out and buy a whole heaping cart full of food during the holiday sales. I swore it would cost me $200, but I got out of there just shy of $80. I am well on my way to stocking a good, healthy pantry!

I'm also through a book and a half in my nine days of vacation. I had bought but never read Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence a number of years ago. I finally pulled it out and read the darned thing. I ended up really liking it! I bought The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, thinking that I love Kate Winslet and every movie she's been in, and I've found it lacking. It's not great, but not awful. It's a shame - I read Little Children by Tom Perrotta and found it engulfing. Not so much this time. I also own, but have not read, Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. That will probably be my next book. I have asked for Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut and Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb for Christmas. Vonnegut's book was published posthumously, and Lamb's books are amazing, but few and far between.

I hope everyone out there had a good, relaxing holiday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Fighting" with my Father Leads to Interesting Results

I fight my family politically all the time. They send these ridiculous emails out and quote statistics. I never have any stats on my side to back my reasoning up, but I always research later and find out I was right. That being said, today I'm investigating our national debt. And believe it or not, I'm going to use my research as a lesson for my Algebra II kids! I went to the treasury department's website and found the U.S. debt for each year dating back to 1791. Crazy what you can find on the web, huh?
Check out the graphs I made:

Sorry they're a little blurry. They're screen shots that went into paint, then through Blogger and then were enlarged. What I get out of this data is that our debt is growing at an astounding rate (duh). In GWB's presidency, the debt was raised by roughly $500 million per year. Under Obama's presidency, the debt is rising at $2 billion per year. Wow. That's 4 times as fast!

Check out the large dip in our debt in the 1830-1840's. I've never heard of that. At one point, the U.S. debt was only $33,733.05. My college loan debt is just about that much!!! But we were right up there in the next ten years or so.

One of the reasons I read so many blogs, newspapers, articles, and listen to NPR is that I'm trying to get a good handle on what is actually happening in our country. I want to know who I should support and of whom I should be weary. It makes sense, to me, to be aware of what is going on in our world so that we can be ready at a moment's notice if something major changes. It's great that we have food in our pantry and 72 hour kits upstairs, but if we don't work to be mentally and intellectually prepared in our lives, then it's all for naught.

Since I live so close to DC, I get scared probably more easily than a lot of you out there. If someone nukes the capital (God forbid), I have a very short period of time to leave. I am thankful that I have moved a little further outside of the fallout range, but I am still close enough that a stiff wind will cause major issues in our lives.

Bleary Day

It's really yucky outside. It's drizzly and cold and gray. My mom was supposed to come over yesterday. We were going to go shopping and paint my bathroom. I had some issues when I tried to paint the bathroom myself, so I needed her expert opinion. Instead, she said she was going to come over early today - 9 am. Well, she called and now she'll be over around 11. By the time she actually gets here, there'll be little time to spend with her.

I miss my mom. When I moved closer to home, she moved farther away. It didn't hit me until I moved, but she's still 45 minutes to 1 hour away from me, just like she used to be. It's hard to get up there to see her, especially since we're both so busy. She'll be coming to Thanksgiving, but she works that night, so she's got to leave really early.

I'm hopeful we'll get to spend some time together.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Proud of my Pantry

I'm so proud of my pantry! Food Lion had 10.5 oz cans of veggies 2/$1. I couldn't pass it up, so I bought 12 more cans of veggies. As soon as I got home, I ran downstairs with my laptop and inventoried the pantry. I have few things left to pick up to have a complete three month supply for dinners:

Black Beans 19 cans
Broccoli 14 cans
Canned Soup 8 cans
Canned Veggies 14 cans
Carrots 6 lbs
Chicken 35 lbs
Chicken Broth 7 cans
Cream of Chicken Soup 1 can
Cream of Mushroom Soup 2 cans
Creamed Corn 6 cans
Diced Tomatoes 8 cans
Eggs 7 eggs
Evaporated Milk 2 pints
Ground Beef 4 lbs
Kidney Beans 16 cans
Mexican Cheese 16 cups
Mushrooms 6 cans
Oil 5 cups
Olive Oil 7 cups
Parmesan Cheese 3 cups
Roaster 5 roasters
Salmon 16 fillets
Salsa 5 jars
Shallot 5 shallots
Sour Cream 8 tubs
Stir Fry Veggies 8 cups
Tomato Paste 17 cans
Tortillas 8 packs
Tuna 14 cans

I'm so excited! I'm almost stocked! I'll then move onto breakfasts, then lunches. I need many more fruits with vitamin C though. I've currently only got 1 can of crushed pineapple and 1 can of mandarin oranges. I do, however, have a ton of spinach pesto, which has a good bit of vitamin C.

I'm very, very excited to be hosting Thanksgiving this year. I've got my whole menu planned and written out with start and cooking times. I've gotten everything I need from the store. I've done everything I can do already. I'm dying to get everything ready! It feels like I'm really, finally an adult by hosting this. Only one other time in my almost 24 years do I remember not having Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house, and now I'm hosting it for her. It's a great honor and privilege for me. Considering I found my camera, you all will definitely get pictures :o)

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Amazing Boyfriend

I have an amazing boyfriend. It's true. He is, by far, the best thing that's ever happened to me. No matter what crazy thing I do, he's here for me. He bears the brunt of my texts when I'm down at work. He cooks, cleans, does the dishes, and does the laundry. He lavishes attention and love on me even when I feel like I don't deserve it. He tells me I'm pretty, and he brings me flowers. He's patient, laid back, and generous. He writes cute things on our chalkboard.

The plutonium comes from the fact that we've seen the Back to the Future movies 15 times in the last two months.

The quote is from a Pogues song that he sang to me our first New Year's together while dancing at midnight.

On that note, every New Year, he puts on Auld Lang Syne and a Pogues song and slow dances with me, no matter who's around. Last year, we were in his parents' kitchen while a whole lot of people were just standing around talking.

I am one lucky girl - I would be totally lost without him.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Hard Row to Hoe

I've been trying to be less than sour about my life lately, and I'm finding it really difficult. I spend my days intensely wanting to be anywhere else than where I am. It's really hard to get going in the morning - I woke up at 5 am and laid on the floor for half an hour this morning. I dread going to work, and the idea of coming home is no relief. I get home round about 4 pm, and I have to go to bed around 7-8 pm or lose critical sleep time. I get up at 5 am again to start the cycle over. It's not like I can even pull out what I'm specifically unhappy about. If I could, I'd have a much easier time figuring myself out. It's not like I'm going through any real crisis, so why am I so depressed and stressed? My drug of choice to self-medicate has been caffeine. And I know that complaining perpetuates a downward spiral, so why am I writing this?

Things to be thankful for:
  • *B* - in so many ways
  • My family (both mine and *B*'s)
  • My friends
  • Having a roof over my head
  • Having a reliable car
  • Having a good job (even if I don't always like it)
  • Thanksgiving break starting tomorrow afternoon
  • Being in relatively good health
  • Having good health insurance

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Things I Would Like to Accomplish Over Thanksgiving Break

Things I Would Like to Accomplish Over Thanksgiving Break
  1. Relax!
  2. Paint the bathroom
  3. Inventory the pantry
  4. Finish unpacking the office
  5. Host Thanksgiving
  6. Get Christmas decorations ready
  7. Address Christmas cards
  8. I almost forgot - have a happy birthday!

School Work and Self Reflection

In my Differentiated Instruction class tonight, we did this activity:
Imagine that you are in a room with four objects: a bouncy ball, a clipboard, a microscope, and a stuffed puppy dog. If someone asked you to go to an object that speaks to you, which one would you stand near?

  • If you chose the bouncy ball, you are active and unpredictable. You like to think outside the box.
  • If you chose the clipboard, you are organized and like to plan. You like to make lists and check them off.
  • If you chose the microscope, you like details and discovering new things. You work well on your own and want to know why things happen.
  • If you chose the puppy dog, you are loyal and friendly. You like to work in groups and keep the peace.

I've done this activity before and was told I'm a microscope. I think I might be more clipboard, but I don't like associating with other clipboards. We were told that clipboards and bouncy balls don't get along very well, and that microscopes are generally the teacher's pets. The whole point of the exercise is to identify what your learning style is and what the learning styles of your students are. Where do you fall in this activity?

I love these kind of activities where you learn things about yourself. I have a hard time sometimes because I fit a number of categories. When I took the multiple intelligences test, I fit four of the nine intelligences. While it's good that I'm well rounded, it's hard to make career choices in those situations! Wouldn't it be nice if they could just scan your head and tell you what career would make you most happy?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mona Lisa Smile

I love this movie. It really makes me think about how I sometimes feel bad for not finishing graduate school. Rather than leaving for a husband, I left to teach. I'm still not sure that it is my calling in life. I miss having deep and meaningful conversations, rather than teaching formulas over and over again. I think that my education was indeed lacking, as I was once told in grad school. But rather than lacking a physics background, I think I lacked a true well roundedness (if that is a word), and didn't get a chance to explore who I am. I'm fairly convinced that physics is not for me. It doesn't get me excited. So why have I spent all this time and energy (and, unfortunately, money) working on it? I subbed for an English class today, and I really liked it. What does that mean? I have no idea.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Great Weekend

So far, this has been a great weekend. I stressed about my assignment to teach a lesson to a class full of teachers yesterday, but I got through it okay. Because I was the first to go, and I got my other work done early, I have no work due until December 5th. Woo hoo!

In the middle of my lesson, my phone rang. This really threw me off because I swore I had forgotten it at home. Regardless, it was *B*'s mom. Her friend backed out of a play last minute, and so she offered me the ticket! I went with *B*'s mom, his aunt, and a family friend to see the Wizard of Oz on stage. I ran down after class and we had a great lunch (mmm, crabcakes), then skipped back into the city to go see the play. It was very well done, I am pleased to say. I had a really good time, and I'm glad that I went, despite my initial reluctance.

Today, my brother's coming over to help me fix some little things on my car, then *M* and her boyfriend are coming over. We always have a great time with them. I'm thinking we'll do late lunch/early dinner out in town here, then dessert at our place. What to make?? I've got a lot of things to do before they get here: bedroom, office, bathroom, living room, and kitchen all need to be tidied and swept/vacuumed. I'm off to clean!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Busy Days and Sleepless Nights

The next two weeks are going to be super busy. Tomorrow is parent teacher night. I will see parents for ten minutes at a time from 2pm to 8pm. I have 30 sets of parents signed up for times already. It is particularly stressful, because I never know what's going to happen. Last year, I had parents blaming me for their kid spacing out in class, I had one mother in tears the whole time because she didn't know what to do about her kid, I had a bunch of parents love me, and a bunch of parents just sit and stare at me. I am praying for a happy, yet uneventful parent teacher conference night.

Beyond that, I have a ton of work to do before my class on Saturday. I'm not quite sure when I'll get it done. I signed up for the first of three days to present my mini-lesson. Basically, I have to stand up in front of a bunch of science teachers and teach them science for 30 minutes. I'm shaking in my proverbial boots.

On a nice note, we haven't had to turn our heat on yet. It's cool in here (maybe 60-65), but it's not freezing. Because we have baseboard heat, I'm avoiding turning it on. When we finally do put it on, I think it'll only be in the living room, kitchen, and bedroom. We're going to close off and stuff our office and basement doors, because we rarely go in there.

*B* and my mom were supposed to caulk our windows and re-insulate our attic today. My parents had leftover insulation from trying to finish our basement a number of years ago. My mom generously offered the insulation that they didn't use to us. Unfortunately, tropical storm Ida ran through here today, and she couldn't bring anything over. I am hopeful that we can get it all insulated before the cold really sets in. The sooner we're set for winter, the more at ease I'll be.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lovely Weekend

We had a great time this weekend. Thursday, I came home from work and I had an early anniversary present waiting for me. Really it was a present for both of us - a mattress topper. We both have some nasty back problems because we have a mattress that might be older than we are and is hard as a rock.

On Friday, I called out sick because I honestly needed the time off. I might not have had the flu or a fever, but I sure was sick. Unfortunately, I apparently left my camera at school. I could not find it anywhere! So you'll have to use your imaginations.

For *B*'s birthday, we woke up at the reasonable hour of 7:30 am and, upon realizing that we don't keep nice breakfast foods in the house, decided to go out for breakfast. There's a little locally owned restaurant just down the street - it was nice. They have great food. Afterward, we went to Ikea to pick us up some not quite necessities that we've been putting off. *B* got a nice, affordable nightstand to match mine, and we got a much needed lamp for the living room. When we got it all home and assembled, Wicket went crazy sniffing it all out. Our lamp has a pull cord, and she figured out how to turn the lamp off. She hasn't continued to turn it on and off, but at least we know she can.

For *B*'s dinner, we had rosemary honey mustard lamb roast with roasted parsnips and potatoes, steamed broccoli, yorkshire puddings, and wine. Yorkshire puddings remind me of thicker popovers. Mmm, popovers, I haven't had them in a long time! Sorry, anyway :o) The pictures below aren't mine, but the closest to what mine looked like that I could find on the great world wide web.

Allana's Leg of Lamb Recipe
1 boneless leg of lamb
Breadcrumbs (I use panko)
Spicy Mustard

Sear the lamb in a skillet. While the lamb sears, cut about 2 garlic cloves into slivers. Put the lamb in a roasting pan on a rack when seared all over. Cut small slices in the lamb and stuff the garlic in. Let sit for a while. Mix equal amounts of honey and mustard together. Mix an appropriate amount of breadcrumbs with a fair amount of rosemary. Put the breadcrumb mixture in a flat dish big enough to hold the lamb. Baste the lamb with the honey mixture on top first. Flip the lamb honey side down into the breadcrumbs. Push in to coat. Baste the rest of the lamb with the honey mixture, and turn in breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 F until internal temperature is 155+ F.

Yorkshire Puddings
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
pan drippings or oil

Collect the grease from the bottom of the roasting pan when lamb is just about done. If there is not enough grease, you can use vegetable or canola oil. Mix together 1 cup of flour, 2 eggs, and 1 cup of milk. Don't overbeat, but make sure all are incorporated. Pour the grease/oil in the bottom of a cupcake/muffin pan until the bottom is just covered, maybe up to 1/8 of an inch. Do not put the batter in yet. The pan must reach the temperature of the oven before batter goes in. Once the pan is hot, ladle batter into pan and throw back into the oven. The puddings are done when the tops are just crispy and brown.

They are usually puffed when you pull them out of the oven, then collapse like in the picture above. They are wonderful with any kind of sauce: jam, honey, gravy, meat juice.

Having gone to the grocery store the day before, we made ourselves a lovely breakfast yesterday. We sat around and did absolutely nothing (except maybe sleep) all day and it was wonderful. When I woke up from a two hour nap, we went out to dinner at a great Italian restaurant. I had shrimp and scallops in a divine cream sauce with fettuccine, and *B* had chicken in a tomato sauce with mushrooms and angel hair pasta. Fettuccine is, by far, my favorite pasta ever. Everything about it was really lovely. There was even a lady playing some kind of harmonica-like instrument that you hear in cheesy Italian music.

This morning, I'm awake, *B*'s asleep and the whole house is quiet (aside from Wicket trying to kill bugs). It has been a very lovely weekend.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You May Wish to Settle in for a While - It's a Loooong Story.

I am one of a group of girls who all grew up together. We were all in the smart kids reading group when we were little or in honors classes together in high school when we met. To explain what's going on, one needs back story.

*K* - Dropped out of college and messed around job wise for a while. Got married after dating for a few months and after suffering two miscarriages. She now has one healthy baby girl and one girl (supposedly) on the way. She lives with her husband in her parents' basement. I have never liked her husband, but am trying very hard to get over that. Neither of them have a full time job, but they both work.

*M* - Went to a well-known university for Business, met a great guy (who *B* and I have a couple crush on), and bought a house with him. They will definitely get married, but are not in a rush. Not in the job of her dreams, but is living well.

*K2 - ME* I am the youngest of the group, but as of the end of this month, we'll all be 24 years old. I dated a guy for seven years, and everyone (including I) thought we were going to get married. We even went ring shopping at one point. While dating him, I went to a tiny college and got a degree in Physics. I went to grad school at a good university with my boyfriend where he dumped me. I met *B* and was in a much happier relationship, but dropped out of grad school because I hated the work. This is my second year teaching high school, and obviously, we just bought a house. We can't afford to get engaged/married right now, and I have to suck it up and deal with it for the moment.

There is more back story with the other two girls in the group, but the three of us keep in contact the most.

When *K* met her husband, she changed. Not just a little bit, but A LOT. She used to be an intelligent, confident woman with whom I could hold a conversation. Not anymore. If you are not a member of the "Mommy/Wifey" club, she seems uninterested. She appears to have no other interests than her daughter or having more children. It annoys me to no end that she professes to be very religious (first Lutheran, now Catholic because her husband is), but doesn't/didn't lead a religious life. I can deal with it if you tell it like it is, but I have a hard time accepting hypocrisy.

The thing that bothers me most is that I have worked really hard to get what I want by doing things properly. I know that you can argue me on that fact because we bought a house before marriage. But here is what I mean:
  1. I am careful not to bring children into this world out of wedlock. I'm a firm believer in this. I feel awful that she had to endure miscarriages. I'm sure there are few greater losses in one's life. But they wouldn't have happened if she was preventing them. You can't claim not to use birth control due to religious beliefs when those same beliefs don't permit pre-marital sex.
  2. I've been with my boyfriend for a substantial amount of time. Such a time period lessens the chance of finding out they're a complete creep (which, IMHO, her husband is).
  3. I will have a stable place to live before having children. Short of an unexpected crisis, we will be set with a home.
  4. We will have a stable financial situation with which we can support ourselves and our children. Short of an unexpected crisis, we will be financially stable.
I have done things to ensure that I am not creating a burden on anyone around me. I am being responsible.

I've pretty much gotten over the fact that I was "supposed to" be the first one to get married in our group. I know there's no such thing in life as "supposed to," but all those involved, even tangentially, thought my ex and I would be the first. Whenever I'm around *K*, I feel like she's sticking it in my face that she is where I want to be as far as marriage and possibly children. She even told me once that I'm jealous because she has a family. I have kept my lips zipped - this was an unprovoked comment.

When I'm with *M* and her boyfriend, it is the polar opposite. We have a great time, everything goes well. We like each other's company. But they live at least 45 minutes from us. *M* is very grounding, and makes me feel good about where I am in life, even if I still long to be engaged. At least we've started out life well.

Tonight was *K*'s daughter's first birthday party. Both *M* and I were invited to the party, but *M* couldn't make it. Whenever I go to gatherings with *K*, I feel a tension-not reciprocated, but within myself. I stood around for two hours by myself tonight while everyone focused on the baby and *K*'s impending second one (due in March). I am not self-absorbed. Of course I understand it's the baby's day and her's by default. But *K* spent all her time talking to other mothers about what the baby was probably thinking or if she was messing her diaper rather than anything of substance. I tried talking to other random people there, but they were all her parents' age. Even when talking to *K* alone, she just stops listening or talking and stares at or plays with her daughter in the middle of a conversation. It's like talking to a brick wall.

It's not that I can't deal with not being first to hit a major milestone - *M* got a house first and I was/am really happy for her. Whenever *M* has something happen in her life, I'm generally really excited for her. But with *K*, it just digs in a little harder, like somehow her success is directly to my perceived failure in life.

Here are the big questions:
  1. Why does *K*'s personal/family situation bother me so much?
  2. Why do I get so tense around *K* in general?
  3. Why can't I deal with people who get so absorbed into babies and motherhood at the expense of everything else?
Aside from the fact that I now feel like I'm a big whining baby, any thoughts?

Back on Track and Thinking of the Weekend

I'm back on meds and feeling much better. Sorry for the off-the-wall posts.

I'm so excited for this weekend! Friday is *B*'s birthday, Saturday is our anniversary, and Sunday we agreed to do absolutely nothing. It will be gorgeous!

For his birthday, *B* asked for lamb, parsnips and carrots, potatoes, and yorkshire puddings. He also asked for a lemon pudding cake, which is essentially lemon cake with lemon pudding between the layers like a trifle. After the weekend, I will definitely post pictures (with recipes) of all the great food.

For our anniversary, we're going to a restaurant that was our second date. It's a little place owned and operated, that sells any kind of meat you could want (his reason for going) and has great food (my reason for going). Last time we were there, he got alligator tail and buffalo bites. They have venison on the menu as a staple, not just a gimmick - something I've never seen before.

A funny note: I picked up a book from the library called Find More Time by Laura Stack. Problem is - I haven't found time to read it! Maybe this weekend...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Having Problems

The other day I must have been really stupid. Even though I even wrote that one should never quit their meds cold, I stopped taking my Prestiq and didn't start the Xanax. At first I was really hyper, then I got very angry, then very sad. My mom's a nurse, and she told me to take the Xanax. So I started yesterday. It has not helped in the least. I've been freaking out about health problems that don't exist, just like I used to. I've been having chest twinges, and I think I'm losing my vision. I think I have either cancer or a brain aneurysm ready to burst. My temperature tonight was 97.9F, and so I covered up under blankets until I reached 98.4F. I was dizzy all day and almost fell asleep driving home. I'm glad I didn't drink at all today, because my mom just called and said it can cause blackouts. I've been nauseous, and I haven't eaten anything substantive for breakfast or dinner. I know that I am really dehydrated. My kidneys hurt, and I'm pretty sure I'm diabetic, though all tests I've ever done have come out negative.

There was one good thing that happened today, and it was a big one. Every year my family goes to the oyster roast in my town. Though my father hasn't spoken to his parents in over a year, he apparently invited them. I guess the incident where they met at my housewarming party (and I'm sure my mom's intervention) prompted him to change this. Everyone got along well, considering the situation, and it allows me to invite them to Thanksgiving at my house. I'm very happy to not be stuck in the middle anymore.

It was awkward, though, when my grandmother asked when we're getting married, because they want to take a trip to Alaska. We're not even engaged. Apparently, all the things I had told my mom, just pipe-dreams really, she passed on. They're under the impression/illusion that we're getting married this summer. That is very, very unlikely. And besides, who asks that kind of question? When I get engaged, they'll be some of the first to know. Until then, hold your horses, ya know?

Our pumpkins turned out pretty well:
*B*'s Pumpkin
My Pumpkin

And because she's so adorable, my cat Wicket:

Hey Guys, how's it goin'?

This is my Halloween costume: evil cat.