Thursday, May 27, 2010

Conversations with Sam

Me:  "Hey Sam, do you want some chicken nuggets?"
Sam:  "Ummm . . . . "
Me:  "They are fake chicken chicken nuggets."
Sam:  "Then YES.  Those are good!"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Conversations with the Kids

(while discussing how many days of school are left)
Sam:  "Too bad the last day of school isn't my birthday.  My birthday is the week next."
Me:  "Yes.  The last day of school is actually MY birthday."
Sally:  "Yeah, and you'll be FORTY!"  (my age delights her)
Sam:  (pausing for effect, and totally serious)  "Really?  I thought you were going to be twenty-nine again."
Me:  "Sam.  I love you."
Sally:  (rolling her eyes)  "You know he doesn't mean that!"
Me:  "Doesn't matter.  I love compliments of any kind.  Compliments and chocolates."
Sam:  (pretending to be confused)  "What?"

(The really funny part about all of this is that I have never joked about being twenty-nine again or celebrating the anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday.  I don't know where he gets this stuff.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

What's For Dinner

I have been a vegetarian for five months now.  In that time, I've eaten fish twice (both in Solvang - how's that for funny?) and I had one piece of Orange Chicken (it smelled so good and I wanted to see if it would have an adverse reaction to it (I didn't)).  After the initial shock, it's been great.  I think that my attitude has changed, and at first I thought it was a big deal, so when I told people, they thought it was a big deal too.  Now it's not such a big thing to me, so I must down-play because the reactions I've been getting have been all positive.

I had lots of comments on that first post - both on the blog and via email.  Several people told me that they have wanted to try a vegetarian diet, or that their spouse is interested, or that they want to but can't see giving up the meat.  I get that.  It's a big change.  I say, try it out.  Don't tell yourself that you can never eat a cheeseburger again.  Say, for example, I'll eat vegetarian two nights a week.  Or, when I eat at home, it will be vegetarian.  Or whatever works for you.  If you are interested, just try.  And when you do, notice how you feel.  The first thing I felt was more hungry faster.  You have to change your mind to see that "hungry" does not equal "need to eat".  Also, I've noticed that I sleep better when I go to bed with an empty stomach.  I sleep longer, deeper, and without bad dreams.

So, what do I feed my family?  I'm not an ethical vegetarian, so I don't have an issue with buying or prepairing meat.  I'm not out to make my family vegetarian either.  My meal planning has been falling into three categories:

Meat is still the Main Dish:  This is what I did when I first started out - I made traditional meals, but with extra side dishes and vegetarian soup and salad.  It works fine, but I have to choose sides that add up to complete proteins for me.  I like to serve a raw veggie appetizer with this kind of meal - that helps me not want to eat too much during dinner.

Meat on the Side:  This works well with stir fry, bbq, and pasta meals.  I make the meat optional, and the main part of the meal is without meat.  This works well with Mexican food too.  My new favorite is grilled veggies with rice.  I'll grill some chicken or steak for the meat-eaters, then four of five kinds of veggies.  The kids have to pick one of the veggies, and they have been good about trying new things.  They still don't like tomatoes or mushrooms, but that's ok.

Meat-Free:  I told the kids early on that I would still make them meat, but sometimes I would like them to try new things that may be without meat.  (I closed the deal by telling them I would not make them switch to soymilk.  They agreed.)  I now make lasanga with the fake meat, because if you mix it with the tomato sauce, you really can't tell that it's not ground beef.  Same thing with enchilladas.  I have been making these enchilladas that Stuart loves, and I'm going to be posting the recipe soon.  I'm pretty happy with it because I made it up myself, and it makes a huge batch that lasts for a few days.  (Yes, they are so good that we eat them two or three days in a row.  The kids even eat them.)  One thing about the meat-free:  I told the kids that I would never trick them into eating "weird" food.  Sally is particularly picky about that, so I always tell her what is in the meal.  Sam is more of a guy - if it smells good and tastes good, he doesn't care what's in it.  He even ate some fake chicken nuggets of mine because they smelled so good.  (That was after he made a big deal of me making him real chicken chicken nuggets - he ate the real ones then the fake ones and decided that the fake ones tasted better - lol!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

updates & changes

First off, I apologize for the lack of recent posting.  It's always crazy around here in May/June, and this year is especially crazy because (a) I'm working this year and getting my students (three now - two went back to school) caught up in their classes, (b) Sam is in first grade and he is near the end of his natural abilities and is needing to actually work at school (especially spelling - the words are getting harder now), and (c) well, I don't have a (c) but I like lists in threes, and I'm sure there must be other factors because, looking back, the first two don't seem significant enough to cause a huge disruption.  Oh wait - I just got it - (c) it's season finale week.  I've been staying up way too late watching too much tv.  American Idol - loving it!  I actually don't care who wins - I like Crystal and Lee and would love to see either one finish first.  LOST - have the season finale time on the calendar - that's sad, I know, but I feel so invested and the end feels like the release of the last Harry Potter book.  (see the comments section of this post for questions I want answered in the finale)  The Glee episode was the best ever this week - "Piano Man" is one of my favorite songs, and Les Miserables was one of the first musicals Stuart and I saw together (and it's his favorite).  Tonight is the season finale of Grey's Anatomy - I know, I know, I can't believe I still watch it either, but I do.  I like the intense craziness of it.  I don't like the morality, so I keep thinking I'll stop watching it one day.

I've been reading some fun things for my students - The Taming of the Shrew, Antigone, Red Badge of Courage, Fahrenheit 451, Huck Finn, and The Odyssey.  I think that is one of the best things about my job - flexibility in my schedule is near the top too - but I get to read all these great books and I'm paid to do it.  One day, I just might go back to school and get a degree in Literature so I can teach that too.  Grading essays would be painful, but talking about books all day long would be fantastic.

I've been thinking about this blog and why the posting has been scarce lately.  I think me working so much is the main factor, but I also think that Sam learning to read has stopped me from writing about him too much.  There's just not soo many funny Sam Stories that are fit for the blog anymore, and I know he'll start reading this soon.  Don't worry - I'll still write updates about the kids and put up some pics now and again, but I've been thinking about adding some new elements.  We watched "Julie & Julia" (great movie) and the idea of picking a cookbook and making everything in it is very interesting to me.  But it's been done.  I recently read another book called "Sweater Quest" about a woman who knit a complicated sweater in a year.  This idea of picking something to do - something challenging - and write about the process - is very appealing to me.  I just need to pick something.  Ideas are welcome.  Until I decide what my challenge is, I'll be writing more about the vegetarian thing, since I've had lots of interest about how I'm doing and what I'm feeding everyone.

I'm off to work - today is editing an essay and factoring trinomials, along science, history, and Antigone.  This afternoon, after homework, is soccer and open house.  Hmmm, and dinner  . . . . . need to figure out what's for dinner . . . .

Thursday, May 13, 2010

grey sweater

I've been knitting myself a new sweater.  I've knitted this pattern - Mr. Greenjeans - twice before - once for Sally, and then for my sister earlier this year.  I love it.  It's easy enough to go fast, but with some cables to keep me interested.  It's seamless - a huge plus for me, because I really don't like the seaming.  It's flattering to almost any body type.  And it only has one button.  (Like sewing seams, sewing on buttons is not something I really enjoy.)

A great thing happened a few days ago while I was working on the sweater.  I started to bind off the bottom edge (always a great thing - binding off) and I got about half way done and realized that (a) I was binding off the wrong row, and (b) it matters.  I did not like the way it was looking.  In denial, I kept binding off a few more stitches, sighed, and started pulling them out and putting everything back on the needles.  When I got them all back on, some of them were backward, and when I started knitting again, I knit some of them through the front loop and some through the back loop to twist them back to the proper place.  Here's the great part:  I didn't even have to think about it.  I just looked at it and knew what to do.  It took me about half the row to realize that I was fixing the stitches without thinking about it. 

I'm knitting the first sleeve now.  I'll hopefully finish in a week or two, which means that we will have a heat wave in a week or two.  It's always hot here on the day I finish a sweater.

Friday, May 07, 2010

on freedoms

By now, you have probably heard of the five high school students who were asked to remove clothing (well, turn it inside out) picturing the American flag on May 5. (If you haven't, here's an aritcle or two.) A friend first told me about the incident, and she didn't know where the high school was located. Only in California, I sadly thought to myself. And sure enough - California.

I don't get too involved with political topics on the blog. Only a few times in all the years I've written has my musings wandered into political arenas. I don't think I've ever discussed political parties or candidates (except to support our govenor during a crisis, which I've seriously had to re-think my support when I see what's going on in our public schools. But I digress. . . . ).

This outrages me. I am a very patriotic person. I cry during the national anthem. My dad is a marine and in our house, the flag was respected. I cannot remember a day when the flag was not flying at our house, and it never - NEVER - touched the ground. (So much so that my dad is still a little uncomfortable that our welcome mat in front of our front door is red, white, and blue.) So when some kids are asked to turn their t-shirts inside out because the picture of the American flag could be considered disrespectful, that makes me furious. The American flag is the reason that people of any heritage have the freedom to celebrate the things that are important to their family. Cinco de Mayo, Chinese New Year, St. Patrick's Day, Kwanza - I'm sure there are a multitude of holidays, and I'm sure that celebrations honoring them are all protected under the freedoms of our country - represented by the American flag!!!

And, as many people on the Support-the-Live-Oak-Five facebook page have pointed out, if Americans were in any other country on July 4 and had a hissy fit about someone wearing a t-shirt with that country's flag on it - well, that would not be well recieved at all. Not at all.

Intolerance is a two-way street. When you restrict one person's freedoms, it hurts all of us. I may not want to wear American flag shorts, but I will stand up and say that any American is free to do so. I may not agree with your politics or religion, but I will stand with you in your right to your opinions and your right to express them.

When I found the support page on facebook, I sent it to every person in my friends. Every one. I didn't even stop to think of their background - it didn't even occur to me that if they were part Mexican or came from Mexico or (like me) are related to someone from Mexico - I am confident that all of my friends love America and that they would be as outraged as me that students in our country would be treated this way.

Our country as a Flag Code - did you know that? Here's some quotes from the rules concerning our flag:

"No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America."

"The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing."

Sure, the t-shirts the students were wearing are pictures of the American flag, and not an actual flag, but still. No disrespect should be shown. Especially when you are living in America, and enjoying the freedoms that the flag represents.

I've been studying the Civil War with one student, WWII with another student, and the Revolutionary War with my daughter. I think of all the brave men and women who gave their very lives for our country and for our freedoms. When I honor our flag, I honor their sacrifice. When our flag is disrespected, it dishonors the lives that were given for our freedoms.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

good frozen food

I've been trying some vegan convience foods to see what's good, and I ate Kashi Black Bean Mango for lunch this week. I loved it! It's sweet and the mango is really good and their rice mixture is excellent. I'll buy it again.