- I love watching sports, but I am one of the least athletically talented people you will ever meet. I can often watch a game and tell you what the athletes are doing wrong; however, I could never in a million years do what they do.
- I really enjoy being awake early in the morning, especially if I know that I'm going to get to spend some time outside. However, I absolutely hate getting up early.
- I love being able to cross things off of a to-do list. But I'm a huge procrastinator. For example, earlier today I was thinking of all the school-related things I have to get done within the next week. However, it's currently 10:45pm, and I have yet to do a single school-related thing since I left school this afternoon.
- I like to travel. I especially like getting on a plane and going somewhere. However, I get motion sick really easily and have to drug myself up to be able to fly anywhere.
- I enjoy relaxing on a beach; however, until we went to Jamaica on our honeymoon, I was afraid to get in the ocean.
- I got my first issue of "Good Housekeeping" in the mail this afternoon. I was intrigued by an article that touted a 3-week "body makeover." I read the article (which includes a regimen of fat-burning, muscle-toning exercises) because I really would like to get myself into better shape. Did I mention that I read this article while sitting on my couch (watching baseball) and eating Double-Stuf Cool Mint Creme Oreos?
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
When she first saw me on Saturday, she really wasn't too sure about me. She ran off to my brother, and I think she was about to start crying. However, my brother asked her if she remembered "Aunt Carrie." When she heard my name, she looked up at the pictures that my parents have hanging in their hallway. She pointed at a picture of me, and then looked over at me and smiled!! How adorable!
She's pretty good with "please" and "thank you." Of course, "Please" comes out sounding like "peace," but that just makes it cuter. At one point, I asked her if I "could please have one of her grapes?" I asked her a couple times, and she finally cocked her head to one side and said, "Thank you?"
She has started giving "kisses" by just touching her mouth to something or someone. Although most of the kisses seem to be reserved for Sampson (my brother's dog) or Smokey (my parents' cat), I did get a couple myself. One of her favorite things at my parents' house is their cuckoo clock. Every time it went off, she pointed to it, laughed, and said something along the lines of "cah-cahk."
On Saturday, she wanted to come upstairs with me, so I brought her up when I was getting my waffle-knit, zip-up hoodie. I was going to carry her back down the stairs, so I asked her to hold my sweater. She did, and I noticed that she was rubbing it all over her face. When we got downstairs, I put the sweater on, and she gave me the strangest look...like she thought I had 3 heads. I figured out what the look was for after my brother asked me to get her blanket for her. Her blanket and my sweater are made of fabric with the same texture...so she must've thought I was wearing her blanket.
This is definitely one of the reasons that I like going home to visit my family...hanging out with my niece. :)
Friday, April 25, 2008
I'm heading out tonight and flying to Akron. I get motion sick very easily, so I already took my Dramamine. Since I took it so early, I'm hoping that I won't be quite as tired on the plane, and I'm hoping that I won't be jet-lagged and tired all weekend. Maybe I'll get some papers graded. Or at least get to read part of a book.
I don't think that we really have any plans for the weekend, so it might end up being a bit boring. But at least I'll get to spend some time with my family, who I haven't seen since the day after the wedding. And I took the day off work on Monday, so it'll be nice to get a 3-day weekend! I have to leave for the airport in about 15 minutes, and I haven't finished packing yet. Guess I should do that!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
1. I get a strange sort of enjoyment out of telling my high school students true stories that might gross them out a little (for example, on Monday, I told my 9th graders about the time in Kindergarten when I threw up cheese puffs all over the bathroom floor at school).
2. I have (so far) been blessed with a high metabolism. Almost every Saturday, while Shawn plays rugby, I eat an entire can of Pringles.
3. I hate the very thought of having someone touch my feet. Shawn knew that I really liked him when I actually touched his foot with my foot. :)
4. Driving in the snow scares me, even though I've never been in an accident or had any kind of truly negative experience.
5. I've never lost a game of Boggle (the online version doesn't count, in my mind).
6. I'm afraid of most large dogs (and some small ones), but I like Dobermans (thanks, Lis...).
7. I had never tried pepperoni pizza until I was a freshman in college.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I made breaded boneless pork chops, which I absolutely love! I basically use a recipe out of the Pillsbury "Complete Cookbook." I've actually made it often enough that I don't really follow the recipe anymore, though...I just "eyeball" the ingredients.
I know this isn't a cooking blog, but in case someone's interested, here's the easiest pork chop recipe ever:
1. In small bowl, combine flour (1/2 c?), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and seasoned salt (actually calls for paprika...). In another small bowl, combine 1 egg and 1 to 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce. In a third bowl, put about 1/2 c unseasoned dry bread crumbs.
2. Coat a boneless pork chop with the flour mixture, then dip it in the egg mixture. Finally, coat it with the bread crumbs.
3. Place chops in ungreased shallow baking pan. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.
Here's the final result from today! (Oh, okay...I'll admit that I slightly over-steamed the broccoli, but it still tasted good.)
Monday, April 21, 2008
As hard as it is for me to believe sometimes, I am almost finished with my 8th year of teaching English. (That makes me feel a little old!) Whenever I meet someone new and I tell them that I teach high school English, I almost always get one of two reactions. Either the person's eyes light up and they say, "Oh, I loved English when I was in high school!" Or the person sort of grimaces and says, "Oh, I'm sorry." That second reaction is often followed up with, "Do you still make kids diagram sentences?" (By the way...no, I don't...although I personally actually loved diagramming, it's not normally done anymore.)Yes, there are lots of perks to teaching (namely things like summer and winter break). However, for many reasons, teaching is hard. One of the most difficult things for me is that I'm teaching a subject that I truly love. So on one hand, I get to spend my days talking to teenagers about literature that I find beautiful and fascinating. On the other hand, the majority of those teenagers either don't get it, don't like it, don't care about it, or some combination of those.
My 9th graders are beginning to read To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Personally, I think that this is one of the best American novels ever written. Both of the story lines (that of Boo Radley and that of Tom Robinson) are powerful. Atticus Finch is a true American hero. Harper Lee's writing style is full of sophisticated wit and sly humor. Just about every time I read this novel, I discover something new that I hadn't caught before. And yet, sadly, most of my students don't care. Many of them will read the book, only because I tell them they have to, and most of those won't read it carefully enough to pick up on Lee's nuances and subtle undertones. Many of them will skim the SparkNotes (similar to Cliffs Notes), and think that "counts" as having read it.
I just have to remind myself that there will be a few students who will begin to grasp just why this book is read in the majority of high schools in the United States today. Maybe a few of them will read it again as adults. And maybe, just maybe, a few students will go so far as to say that this is a book that they love. And that's why I teach high school English.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Instead of dwelling too long on what may or may not happen as a result of tomorrow's interview, I thought I'd spend some time thinking about what our weekend may entail. Our friends Jarid and Sarah just returned from a trip to Puerto Rico, so we plan to hang out with them on Friday night. On Saturday morning, Shawn and I are heading to Grand Junction, Colorado. It's a town on the Western side of the state, really close to the Utah border. Shawn has a rugby match, so this is what we'll spend Saturday doing. This is a picture of a scrum. Shawn's team is the one on the left, and he's literally in the middle of the scrum. I think you can see his forearm in this picture.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Evergreen is a small little town in the Rocky Mountains. When the town was first started, it was primarily a "summer residence" for people who lived in Denver. Now there are about 40,000 people who live here. There is a "downtown" area that has little shops and restaurants. One of the more infamous establishments is the "Little Bear Saloon." It's located in the oldest building in town, and known for having good live music and getting a little crazy.
We also have a lake in the center of town. It's actually man-made, but I've been told there's decent fishing because Bear Creek runs into it. (Side note: Willie Nelson used to own property on Upper Bear Creek, and according to the rumors, Johnny Depp bought a house up here, too, a couple years ago.) The lake is especially popular during the winter, as it's open for skating and hockey once it freezes over. NHL players have actually been known to come up and play pick-up hockey with the kids from time to time.
Since we are a mountain town with an elevation of about 7200 feet, there are certain things you just have to be prepared for. A traffic jam in our town is normally caused by a herd of elk that refuses to move out of the road. More than once, I've woken up in the middle of the night because of the coyotes yelping outside my window. You have to get bear-proof garbage cans, and everyone knows that if you come across a mountain lion, make yourself look as big as possible. One other thing to get used to is the weather. We normally get about double the amount of snow that Denver gets, and it can literally snow at any time. Yesterday, it was sunny and in the 70's up here. Today...snow. I took these pictures on our back porch about 20 minutes ago. Gotta love mountain living.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
However, despite our hours of immature fun, Shawn and I were able to be a little more "adult" on Sunday. Of course, this also meant that we spent a good chunk of change on Sunday, too. After going to Mass, our first stop of the day was Men's Wearhouse. Shawn has a job interview on Friday, so we agreed that buying a good suit was in order. After choosing a beautiful Calvin Klein dark blue suit (almost charcoal, really) with a light "pinstripe," and after getting it tailored, and after buying a new shirt and tie...we only spent about twice what we had expected to spend. :) But dang, he's going to look good!! I think I'm going to have to come up with more excuses for him to wear it.
We then also went to Crate and Barrel and bought the one thing off our wedding registry that I had been really excited about but didn't receive. This is the "Alto Wine Table." They actually had one in stock, so we were able to take it home right away. It took Shawn about 15 minutes to put it together while I finished cleaning up the living room before his mom came. I can't seem to get the picture to post correctly, but you can see the table by clicking here: http://tinyurl.com/6jckgn
I think it just makes sense, then, after our expensive "adult" afternoon on Sunday, that we went back to playing the Wii after dinner.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I've had some pretty fantastic travels over the years. There was my first plane trip the summer after 8th grade...Lis and I flew to Florida and stayed with her aunt and uncle. This is where I discovered that I shouldn't fly without motion sickness pills (sorry, Lis!) and also where I discovered just how loudly I grind my teeth (again...sorry, Lis!). In the summer of '94, when I was 15, I took a trip for 9 weeks...without my family. It was a missions trip to Ireland. There were 26 teenagers from around the U.S. and Canada and 4 adults. Definitely a life-changer in lots of ways! I've been to Europe 5 times and have found something new to love every time. I've done lots of road trips over the years, too. One of those involved driving from Steubenville, OH to Key West, FL with my friend Katie. We drove my car, which had no cruise control and was a stick shift. Katie didn't know how to drive stick until the week before we left. That was interesting. :) One road trip I did alone. I drove from Denver to my parents' house in OH. Then I decided to take a "detour" on the way back and I drove to the Twin Cities to visit Mark and Meagan. After a day or two there, I drove back to Denver. Somewhere in Nebraska, I discovered that there was a tornado warning for the county I was driving through, so I got off the highway and hung out in a rest stop with a bunch of other drivers. Fun.
This weekend, I won't be doing any traveling (unless you count driving to Denver). But next weekend, Shawn and I will be going to Grand Junction, CO for a rugby tournament. We'll stay an extra day to do some western slope outdoors stuff. The next weekend, I'll be going to OH to visit my family while Shawn goes to Montana for a rugby tournament. The next weekend, we'll be going to Oakland to stay with his brother's family and see Shawn's nephew's first communion. I'm excited for all these little travels! I just need to remember to ask my friend Kate to feed our fish each weekend. She's going to be thrilled. :)
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
However, I'm starting to notice a trend in my book choices. Most of them are depressing! I think that people have died in all but one of the books I've read since January. I actually read two books over spring break. The first was A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. As the title suggests, this is an autobiographical account of the wars in Sierra Leone. The author was 12 when war reached his village, and he was eventually "recruited" to become a soldier. He vividly describes some of the torture and death that he witnessed (and even inflicted) during this time.
After that, I read A Thousand Splendid Suns, the most recent book by Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner. The book was absolutely gripping. It's set almost entirely in Afghanistan, beginning in 1970s and finishing in more-or-less modern day. The main characters of the book are women, which is a very interesting perspective to see. However, these women are rejected by society, see their families die, are forced to marry and then are beaten, verbally abused, and raped by their husbands. The book also gives an Afghani view of the political scene in this country, including the rise and "governing" of the Taliban.
The question now becomes...what to read next? The next books that I have easily available to me are John Krakauer's Into Thin Air (a story of climbing Mt. Everest...where people die) and Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey (the stories of five people who die when a rope bridge breaks and sends them plunging into a gulf). Any suggestions for some lighter reading? Maybe I need to go back to Sophie Kinsella for a little chick-lit. (By the way...her latest, Remember Me?, is really good!)
Monday, April 7, 2008
A Nintendo Wii!!!
We have jumped on the gaming bandwagon and have bought the "revolutionary" Nintendo Wii. We first began playing it with Jarid and Sarah, who managed to get one before the craze really went into full swing at the Christmas season. Shawn and I decided in February that we were willing to splurge and spend the money to get one; however, at that time, all stores and online retailers were "out of stock" of the gaming console. There were a plethora of systems available at that time on ebay, but we agreed we'd rather wait until they come back in stock in the stores instead of spending well over retail price for what is, frankly, a toy.
This weekend, we fortuitously ran into a friend of mine, who mentioned he had been able to get his hands on a coveted Wii last week. Shawn and I let him know we were jealous. End of conversation...or so I thought. When I left school this afternoon, I had a voicemail from said friend. In a low, almost secretive voice, he left the following message: "Hey, I'm at Wal-Mart. They have Wii's in stock. I think there are only two. Hurry."
I'll admit...I rushed right over. Success!!! Now I just need to figure out how to set the darn thing up, and then I'll have 4 extra days to practice before Shawn comes home and I challenge him to a game of Wii Bowling. Or maybe Baseball. Or tennis! The possibilities are endless!
We're also hoping that this will give us an excuse to have people over more often. We can invite them over to play the Wii! Goodness knows I shouldn't invite them over for dinner! (For proof of that, see yesterday's blog post.)
Sunday, April 6, 2008
I decided to play it safe for dinner Saturday night and make my mom's meatloaf and baked potatoes. I know that everyone says that their mom's meatloaf is the best...but mine truly is!! It doesn't have any kind of ketchup/sauce stuff on top of it, which I think is a huge bonus. Plus, I have fun mixing all the ingredients with my hands. :) For once, I remembered to account for living at high altitude (about 7200 feet), and the meatloaf turned out wonderful. I'm excited to eat the leftovers!
One of my friend's recipes that I wanted to try specifically called for Yukon Gold potatoes. So I just got a big bag of them and decided to use a couple of them for the baked potatoes to go with the meatloaf. Note to self: Yukon Gold potatoes do NOT work well for baking! They never got soft and fluffy, so Shawn and I practically had to cut our potatoes to eat them. Oh well...at least we were able to enjoy the meatloaf...and the store-bought cupcakes I had brought home.
This afternoon, Shawn decided to head out to the open space park nearby and go for a run. Since he left me at home, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out another recipe or two! I first looked at making the "Molten Lava Cake." However, I discovered that I didn't buy enough of the baking chocolate to make the cake. As I'm typing this, it just occurred to me that I probably could've halved the recipe and been just fine. Dang it! Then I checked out the "Almost Fudge Gateau", which looks really yummy. Unfortunately, I again didn't have enough chocolate. I also don't own a spring form pan (at least, I don't think I do...). Or parchment paper. Or heavy cream. I then decided to give up on Ashlee's recipes and just make my mom's chocolate chip cookies. But I don't have chocolate chips. Or brown sugar that isn't rock hard.
Deciding that maybe I just wasn't supposed to bake goodies today, I decided to go back to Ashlee's blog and make Au Gratin Potatoes. That way, I can serve them as a side dish to the leftover meatloaf tonight. I know for a fact that I cut up too many potatoes. And I don't know if I was supposed to cover the casserole dish or not (I didnt'). But as far as I can tell, everything else looked right. It's currently in the oven and still has awhile to go, but I just checked on it and the potatoes definitely don't look like the pictures in Ashlee's blog.
***Half an hour later...these are pictures of the "finished" product.
Maybe Shawn and I will get Wendy's when I take him to the airport tonight so he can fly back to Seattle.
Friday, April 4, 2008
I started my day by sleeping almost 2 hours later than I meant to. Oops. What can I say...I love to sleep. :) But then, I went on a cleaning spree. 8 hours later, I'm proud to say that our condo is now almost completely clean! Now, I'll admit that I took breaks here and there. I kept up with the message board on The Knot (my not-so-secret addiction). I watched the Rockies home opener. I treated myself to Domino's pizza for dinner just so I could get some CinnaStix.
One of my big goals today was to do laundry. I did three loads, including a quilted comforter which I think I may have ruined. Don't worry...it's just a store-bought quilt that we were only keeping to use as a back-up or for guests. But I'm now not sure that it was supposed to be machine washed. I think that the maroon squares bled onto the cream squares. Oops. For the next 5 or 6 hours, we have an empty laundry basket. Then Shawn will come home and empty his suitcase from the week, and I'll have more laundry to do. But that's okay...I actually enjoy doing "our" laundry.
I also managed to completely clean out our bedroom, including throwing away quite a few things, organizing my shoes, and putting away things like a suitcase and some towels that we received for the wedding. Wood laminate flooring throughout the entire condo, so they all got dry mopped (including my laying on the floor to get all the little dust bunnies out from under the bed) and then wet mopped. I actually stored away a couple things from the wedding that were still in the living room. I vacuumed the area rug. I washed a set of dishes that we received for the wedding. I scrubbed the tub and shower. I cleaned off the coffee table, including putting some of our engagement photos in frames that I've been meaning to do for months.
I'm not entirely done. There's still dusting that needs to be done, and I wasn't able to clean the bathroom floor since the washing machine was pulled out and in use. Maybe I'll leave those for Shawn to do this weekend.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
I remember watching baseball with my grandpa when I was really little. I distinctly remember watching a game on TV (probably the Detroit Tigers) and being thoroughly confused by the fact that three pitches had already been thrown, but the batter was still at the plate. I understood the "three strikes, you're out" rule, but I had yet to grasp the concept of balls versus strikes.
I became a fan of the Indians in the 80's...yes, the same terrible teams that served as the inspiration for the movie Major League. Because I got good grades, we were able to buy tickets to the games for something like $4 each. Of course, that was in the old Municipal Stadium, or, as it was affectionately called, the "Mistake by the Lake." There was no guarantee that your seats weren't going to be located directly behind a large cement post.
Fortunately, I remained an avid Tribe supporter through the worst of times...and my devotion finally paid off in the 90's. Granted, we have yet to win a World Series, but at least I've had my chance to watch some phenomenal baseball and see some great players (my favorite of which is still Omar Vizquel).
As I said, Shawn humors me. Last summer, when we were in Ohio visiting my parents, Shawn had his first visit to Jacob's Field (sorry...I refuse to call it Progressive Field). Unfortunately, Jhonny Peralta seemed to think that he was supposed to be playing for the Yankees that day, so we watched a heartbreaking loss. But I'm an Indians fan...there's always tomorrow.
We're off to a good start so far! We won our first two games against the White Sox, but lost the game today, 2-1. Tomorrow, the Tribe begins a series in Oakland. Had I realized that, I may have suggested to Shawn that we go visit his brother and sister-in-law for the weekend!