Monday, September 26, 2011

Tracy's Birthday Weekend

Andrew and I hit the road Saturday morning, heading for Council Bluffs. We listened to the Hawkeye game and enjoyed the beautiful fall day. Our destination was Tracy's house, and our purpose was to attend her 40th birthday party.

Now Tracy is not one who likes to call a lot of attention to herself, but when confronted with the question of how she wanted to celebrate her birthday, she thought of the perfect thing. She wanted all her dearest friends around her so they could get to know one another. Beautiful idea, yes?

After an afternoon of visiting and enjoying the kids, we grown-ups went to the Kitchen Emporium and Wine Shop in Council Bluffs. There were 16 of us, and we had a great time. We laughed, we ate, we drank, we talked, and we laughed some more. It was a great party. We started with a meat and cheese platter, and then we all ordered from the menu. Lacie and I split and shared... she ordered the Hawaii 5-0, and I ordered the Roasted Veggie Focaccia sandwich. They were both deeeeelicious! The evening ended with a chocolate/raspberry/layered/dreamcake. WOW!

It was so fun having Andrew there with me and introducing him to my friends and Tracy's family. At the end of the night, my face hurt from smiling so much. What a wonderful problem to have!

On Sunday, we had a nice breakfast and enjoyed Tracy, Steve, and the girls. When Tracy left for work, I drove Andrew around Council Bluffs, showing him all the places that were pivotal to making me who I am. It's weird that I went to his home in England before he went to my home in Iowa. I had to have him taste Christy Creme, of course! The flavor for Sunday was lemon, and it was perfect. We ended our jaunt by going up to Lewis and Clark Monument... the best view in the area. We stopped back by the library to hug Tracy one more time, and then we hit the road. It was a quick trip, but a lovely one. I loved celebrating my best friend, in exactly the way she'd dreamed up. It was perfect!

hugging my best friend after a rousing rendition of "Happy birthday"

so many laughs

our table... Charity (taking the pic), Tony, Max, Lacie, me, Andrew

my love and me

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Little Laugh for Today

Andrew is a big fan of Bizarro comics, and he had this one posted on his Facebook the other day. It seriously tickled my funny bone. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Featured on Another Blog

Andrew's Holly had a fun night not long ago teaching one of Andrew's coworkers, Darin, and her boyfriend Jack how to make Okonomiyaki. I had fun eating the results! Today we were featured on Darin's blog. Click here for the highlights!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hawks Win!

What a game! What a day! Most of this game was just pure ugly, but when the Hawkeye Mornin' Crew puts on its rally caps, enemy beware! Greatest Hawkeye comeback in history!

Friday, September 16, 2011

She Knows Me Too Well

Look who made Mrs. Kaska's Daily "Pun"ishment today! My 8th graders couldn't wait to tell me. I had to go down and take a picture. It sometimes pays to be a Drama Queen! :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Out of My Box

Calling parents of students has never been my forte. I, in fact, dread it. I think it's been on my self-improvement goal list every year since I've been teaching. Today I had to call home for a third tardy. It was the first phone call of the year, but it wasn't a big deal. I know the family, and it was an easy conversation. Then for kicks, I did something I have rarely (if ever... I can't recall right now) done before. I went through my roster and made 2 other phone calls home, but for positive reasons.

Phone call #1 was about a cool project a student had done today. The mom was glad to hear from me, and it turns out she had a question about an assignment anyway, so it was a very productive phone call.

Phone call #2 taught me a lesson. Don't ask for the parents before introducing myself. The dad thought I was a telemarketer and told me that he and his wife weren't home. I asked to leave a message, and as I was introducing myself, he introduced himself back! :) His child had shown a lot of kindness to my new-to-FMS students today who were having some challenges logging on to Google Docs to type their essays. This student volunteered to help while I was answering other questions, and I really appreciated it. The dad seemed really pleased that I called, once he found out I wasn't trying to sell him something. Ha!

I need to do more of that. I feel good, and I think the parents feel good too. Maybe I'll go out of my box a little more often this year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Full Weekend

Jeff came down from Minnesota this weekend, and we had a wonderful time. Friday night we went to Vivo for dinner (How could they take the asparagus/goat cheese/prosciutto/balsamic appetizer off the menu without consulting me first????), and then we chatted with Andrew for a good long while (and when I say "we chatted," I mean that the 2 of them talked about BBC television shows, and I yawned and played Tetris and surfed the net and occasionally gave a polite smile or nod... LOL).

Saturday Jeff & I were up & ready to do some serious damage in Fairfield. We started with coffee at Revelations, and then we hit the square. Thymely Solutions was having a birthday sale, and they had 20% off the entire store. It was absolute chaos, and we waited in line to check out for over half an hour, but it was worth it. We walked around the square (it was SUCH a beautiful day), and then we headed back to Revelations for lunch. From there, we went to Wal-Mart for yarn for my crochet-along, to Goodwill, to Everybody's, and to the MUM bookstore. The low point of the morning was when a guy behind the counter actually thought I was Jeff's mother. Yes, you read that correctly... Jeff's MOTHER! Upon leaving the store, I asked Jeff to just get in the car and run me over to put me out of my misery.

Do I look like his mother?????

The Hawkeye game was a heart attack that ended badly. Thank goodness I was with Jeff and didn't waste 4 hours of my life watching it. I just ended up watching the end of the 4th quarter and the 3 overtimes. Oh well, what can you do? Back to the drawing board, Coach Ferentz!

For dinner, we met up with Andrew and Holly and ate at Top of the Rock. I had a delicious filet mignon, and I felt quite virtuous, replacing my potatoes with steamed broccoli. Guess I ruined the virtue by having a glass of wine, but it evens out, right?

the whole gang at Top of the Rock

After dinner, we went to hear the Beautifully Broken give their hometown concert at the Sondheim Center. These are Fairfield girls who have left home to make it in life and in the music industry. 2 are former students, and 1 has joined me on stage several times. It was a great concert, and we were so proud of them!

Jeff & I ate at George's for breakfast, and then he headed on his way. I love it when Jeff visits Fairfield, and I was sad to see him go. The visit was too short! Avery was sad too. He just sat in the doorway watching him pack that morning... he didn't even want to play. Come again soon, Jeff!!!

I had bells at church, and then Andrew and I went to Ottumwa for some shopping. He needed new clothes because he's dropped 20 pounds, and his clothes are dropping off of him. I've only lost 10. It's so unfair that boys lose weight so easily. :P I'm proud of us though... we're totally trying, and it's so much easier to do together.

We had swordfish steaks for supper, and I made sesame spinach. I'm sort of obsessed with this recipe right now. I've tweaked it a little, but this link shows the basic idea. It's SO good! Andrew is making his Kenny Nelson-inspired roasted turkey tonight, and I'm making my mouth water just thinking about it!

Last night, I thought a lot about 9/11. I watched some of the coverage on TV, and it's sobering to feel those feelings again. Whenever I see video of that plane going into the second tower, it makes my stomach clench. In watching the coverage last night, I heard two things that I'd never considered before: 1. The passengers on Flight 93 knew they were going to die when they burst into the cockpit. It's one thing to be heroic when you think there is a chance for a happy ending, but they knew what was happening with the other planes and sites. I think they went into their mission knowing they were going to die. That is bravery beyond measure. 2. The "pile" at ground zero was basically dust. All those offices with all those desks, phones, chairs, equipment... dust. The firefighters said when they realized that, they knew they weren't going to find lots of survivors like they'd initially hoped.

Today I talked with some of my classes about the anniversary. My students were four years old and under, and most have no memory of the day. I teared up when I talked about the fear I felt that day... that I'd been scared before, but never scared for my whole country. I talked about how I didn't sleep right for weeks because I felt if I turned off the TV, I would miss something. What a terrible time.

The memorial looks beautiful. Once the museum opens, I want to make a pilgrimage. I want to stand on that ground and remember those people. We can never forget that day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The White Trash of Crafty

So, I'm all signed up and ready to go with the crochet-along on Maybe Matilda's site. There are over 100 people signed up, ready to crochet along together. Many of them have listed their websites & blogs, so I clicked on a few. Big mistake. It is very intimidatingly clear that I'm the poor white trash in-law of this super woman group. Holy Cow! These women sew, can, garden, knit, crochet, craft, and cook... while nursing their babies in one arm and feeding their toddlers organic grape juice they've stomped themselves with the other. I, on the other hand, don't have a single curtain up in my house, would rather throw a dish away than be forced to wash it, and haven't seen the entire floor of my garage since I moved into my house (although I can currently see HALF now, and that's a world of improvement... I WILL park in my garage this winter!). How do these women do it? Do they have jobs? Do they have husbands? Do they sleep? Do they plan on continuing to wickedly toy with us before they take us back to their cyborg colony, 12 galaxies over?

It's enough to give a girl a complex. Sheesh.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Crocheting Along with Maybe Matilda

I'm crocheting along!

There certainly is a blog for everything, and I recently found this blog called Maybe Matilda... tons of crocheting! I'm going to crochet along with her & her readers for this project. It's such a fun idea! I'm not really a cowl person (at ALL), but maybe I'll end up loving it... who knows? Otherwise, it will be a good Christmas present. Beware, friends & family! LOL

Anyway, I can't wait to get started. Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Okonomiyaki and Other Hmmm's

Andrew's Holly is off on an adventure for a few days, but before she left, she made us a week's supply of Okonomiyaki, Osaka style. Oh my stars, it is delicious. She has made us Hiroshima style in the past, but that's harder to make ahead of time. My quest today was to find out how many freaking Weight Watcher points there are in Okonomiyaki. I found so many different recipes, it was unbelievable. The conclusion I came to is this: every culture has a few dishes that are "garbage" dishes, where you can throw in a little of whatever you have on hand. Filipino cuisine has pancit, which is one of my favorites. In high school, my friend Ricco's mom Alita would make us pancit and Filipino eggrolls, and we thought we were in Heaven!

What do you think is the American equivalent of this "garbage" dish? I was thinking omelettes, but those aren't really American. Maybe the sandwich? Hm. Something to ponder.

And in case you were wondering (humor me, and pretend like you care), I think the point value for the version I ate is 9.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

First Hawkeye Game of the Season

It was great to be back with the Mornin' Crew this morning. We rolled in a little after 7:00, and it was a little piece of tailgating heaven. Rain was in the forecast, and it threatened all morning, but we managed to only have a few sprinkles out at the Hawkeye Commuter Lot.

On the way to the game, the rain started. We (most of us) broke out the ponchos, ready to tough out the weather. I can say that, hands down, this was the single rainiest game I've ever been to. We had a small break for about 45 minutes or so, but the crowd at Kinnick was a sea of ponchos and water-logged fans.

The team looked good. There are still kinks to work out, and everyone was devastated by the injury of true freshman running back Mika'il McCall. He looked great out there, and now he's done for the season. But a lot of good things happened on the field, and the Hawks came away with the win.

The rain was something else. It got so bad that the hood blew and eventually ripped clear off my poncho. My whole poncho was blowing around like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. I rescued the hood and just tied it on like a bonnet (classy, eh?), and by that time, we (the few of us Mornin' Crew faithful who stuck it out) were just laughing hysterically. The ponchos were completely useless at that time, and we were soaked completely through. They called a rain delay (no one ever remembers that happening at Kinnick every before), and that's when we decided to leave.

The theme for food this week with the Mornin' Crew was sliders. I was skeptical, but it turned out to be inspired. Sliders are small, so you can sample quite a few. Andrew and I brought barbecue pork & coleslaw sliders (inspired by this recipe). We also ate potsticker sliders with Asian slaw, pizza sliders, pulled creamed chicken sliders with bacon, chicken breast wrapped in bacon sliders, and I think there were others too that I didn't even get to try. There were even dessert sliders... yellow cupcakes split in half to form the "bun" with a round brownie in the middle. They were decorated with frosting to look like different condiments. SO CUTE! I also, for the first time, had two bites of something I've always wanted to try... the Krispy Kreme slider. This is a burger with a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut as the bun. I could have eaten ten of them. It was the perfect combination of savory and sweet. Delicious. Unfortunately, I'm currently on Weight Watchers, and I've lost 9 pounds in two weeks, so I didn't go too crazy. I did eat more than I should have, but I was very restrained compared to how I've tailgated in the past.

After filling our bellies, Heather, Andrew, & I put our water-logged selves in the van and headed home. Not ideal conditions, but still a great first weekend of Iowa Football at Historic Kinnick Stadium!
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