Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Cheapest Computer

During my jam and butter project Maddox entertained himself quite well. This was by far the most creative of the day.

Learned: Maddox has toys in excess, but he chooses pizza boxes, shell casings, spare parts, and vacuum hoses to play with instead. So I have started collecting random interesting pieces to give him for Christmas.

The Mermaid Chair & Sammy's Hill

I started Sammy's Hill on my trip to Atlanta. It was pretty funny, I even laughed out loud several times. Sammy is an aide to a politician in DC, who is unlucky in love, a hypochondriac, completely neurotic, an always finds herself in the most unimaginable predicaments. From a racy email being sent to all the wrong people, dealing with a completely high witness who is supposed to appear before the entire congress. Many laughing moments carry you through the political parade as candidates jockey for positions during elections.

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday break I found many morning greeting me with a cup of coffee, my cozy antique chair, and this book. This book was an amazing poetic journey of a woman coming home. ... to take care of her mother, to find herself, to find truths, to find love.

"I felt amazed at the choosing one had to do, over and over, a million times daily -- choosing love, choosing it again, how loving and being in love could be so different." was my favorite quote from the book. It reminded me of how true, and how important, it is in my own marriage. Too many marriages end because those involved don't realize how important their daily choice to love is, to choose love even when you don't feel love.

Learned: Like the ebb and flow of the sea, so is the need to read stirring in my soul.

Apple Butter & Plum Orange Jam

On my final day of this FIVE day Thanksgiving weekend, I opted to spend the day in the kitchen. I had no idea how long it would actually take me to convert 24 apples and 3 pounds of plums into 15 half-pints of spread.

I actually thought the apple butter would take the least amount of time, but it took FOR EVER! Part of the problem was I didn't follow the recipe.... I didn't think there was enough cider to simmer the massive amounts of apples I had sliced up, in the end this required 2 hours of simmering to boil off all the liquid.

This summer I was given a huge box of red plums, not knowing what to do I decided to just freeze them until I figured something out. I found a recipe for Plum Orange Jam, which sounded different and delicious... and contained a hint of orange liquor. (I snitched a lick and it is delish - the jam not the liquor). This was by far the messiest project of the day, as the thawing plums released all their juices up to my elbows. It also took a lot longer because I got carried away prepping the plums and watching the Green Bay/Atlanta game, and realized that I had 9 cups of plums prepped and only needed 5 cups... so the surplus of plums is stored in the fridge ready for another batch tomorrow.

Learned: There is something about that "pop" the jars make after their water bath that is so rewarding. The moments after they are removed fill me with anticipation, until I finally hear confirmation of a job well done.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

And the Sports Just Keep on Comming....(but I am not complaining)

Madison's soccer season came to a close at the end of October. Typically this means that we have a bit more free time, BUT a few weeks before soccer ended she started basketball AND Maddox also started wrestling. So we continue to fill our evenings with various sports practices, and our weekends with games. Thankfully the farthest we have to travel for basketball is Fruita.

It is so fun to watch Madison play sports, we see a completely different side of her. Off the field/court, she is so kind and calm; but on the court we see such a competitive spirit, complete with scary faces...hopefully I can capture the contrast on film.

Maddox is having a great time with wrestling. Even after an hour of wrestling practice and even more running around he comes home wound up. He is picking it up pretty quickly too. Most of the kids wrestling have been wrestling for at least a year, and they always pair him with kids his size, which means he is practicing against kids that are 6 or 7 years old thus having 3-4 years of experience. It took me a while to realize this and get over my worries that he was completely uncoordinated, compared to the kids his age he is doing great! I am so proud of how he goes out there eager to learn, works hard, then comes home and practices on me. He has had multiple successful take downs on me!

Learned: It brings me so much joy to see my children try new things and work hard. Even though it takes a lot of time and planning on the parent's end, and sometimes the laundry doesn't get done, it is worth it because I know how athletics instills such important life lessons... perseverance, commitment, hard work... just to name a few.

The Flapper and The Magician

Halloween was more than a fall celebration thsi year, it marked our last soccer game of the fall season. This also meant we were traveling home on All Hallows Eve, and the kids were worried that they would miss out on trick or treating... but it all worked out and we made it with plenty of time for the candy hustling. Per usual, I stayed home and watched football (to avoid the cold) while Brian took the kids out.

For Halloween Madison and her BFF Emma wanted to be 1920 Flapper girls. After trying to find a costume that wasn't cheesy, I opted to just make it. I think it turned out great! The hardest part was how grown up she looked all decked out. The whole family seemed to have issues with this. It is just so hard to believe that she is so grown up. Maddox was a magician this year, he looked adorable! (Wonder how much longer I can use that word to describe him with out him objecting?)

We carved pumpkins at Brian's parents with his sister and niece. This kids always have a great time carving with grandma and grand pa. It helps that there are always cookies and cider to make the event more festive.

Learned: Making Halloween costume turned out to be much easier than I expected, and it turned out much better than a store bought one.

Atlanta: My Week in the South

My teammate and I got accepted to present at the NAGC (National Association of Gifted Children) in Atlanta. See, here we are listed in the convention catalog We presented on the benefits of proficiency based grading for Gifted Students and our implementation process. This resulted in a week long trip to Atlanta, many more weeks preparing for the presentation as well as preparing substitute teacher plans for my classes while I was gone.

The actual time spent in Atlanta was a great experience! I went to a lot of great sessions and have so many ideas bouncing around my brain. But to be completely honest the trip was not all work and no play. I had a great time going to great restaurants, and enjoying local attractions.

Heather and I did an action lab that the conference offered that took us on a tour of the history of the civil rights movement. We went to the very first college for blacks, as well as toured Auburn Av., MLK Jr.'s childhood home, and Ebeneezer Baptist Church.

We also went to the High Art Museum to see the Salvador Dali exhibit. I had not previously know much about Dali except for his over-the-top personality and melting clocks. {}
But after seeing his artwork, I was truly impressed at his intelligence. He was a man that was very interested in the newest theories, scientific and technological advances at the time. His art work represented the discovery of atoms and particulate matter, that matter is not solid and connected, but rather disconnected. He also dabbled in painting work that was 3-D, Geometric and Fractal inspired, and even pop art influenced him. Though he claims that he left the "surrealist" style moving to classical art, it was evident that he just used the classical art style as a way to further his surrealism. There were so many amazing pieces of art work, and a huge majority of them were not just aesthetic but quite thought provoking.

A fellow GT teacher and I became pretty good friends during the trip, as she and I enjoyed getting out taking advantage of being in the big city. So her and I ended up at a lot of great restaurants and crazy activities... Including a haunted tour of Atlanta. If you know me it the biggest chicken, but it ended up being a lot of fun. For the most part it seemed pretty hokey, there was only one time
(ok maybe a few more than that) that I got a bit scared. Our guide gave us meters to use to detect the presence of supernatural beings. It ended up being pretty interesting hearing about a lot of different pieces of the history of Atlanta. And the best parts is I didn't even have trouble sleeping that night.

While I was in Atlanta there was a plethora of sporting events to attend. The Falcons played the Ravens, there were two hockey games, one basketball game, and the Georgia Tec. Florida Sate game. My new friend and I debated about going the the NFL game or the hockey game, the deciding factor was the hockey tickets were 15 bucks compared to the $120 football tickets. It was a lot of fun, I had never been to a hockey game before, and knew nothing about it. We were fortunate to have gotten seats next to a guy who plays in a "beer league", and clued us in.

Atlanta was a beautiful place to be... here are some random images...

Learned: Though it was a great trip I was so happy to be home and with my family, in our QUIET little town...