Saturday, May 29, 2010

Show Us Your Life--Things That Make You Happy

Mrs. G (not me, the other Aggie Mrs. G--whoop!) over at My Life in the Making posted her version of this post today.  The "Show Us Your Life" idea comes from another blog called Kelly's Korner.  I've seen several picture-based blogring ideas, but I just love the format of this one in particular.  So, I figured I'd join in! 

A few of the things that make me happy!

1)  My wonderful husband.  He's my best friend and my soul mate, not to mention the love of my life. :-)
2) Our dogs, Haley and Annabelle.  They are the sweetest pups, and always make me smile and laugh.
3) My wonderful family.  Be it immediate, in-law, or extended my family is just plain wonderful!

4) My friends.  I love them so much!  We always have so much fun together, and life would just plain suck without 'em!

5) The student part of teaching, especially when I get to help them or when they do something sweet and thoughtful.  Heck, even when they're being difficult, my kiddos remind me of the reasons why I stay in this profession.

6) Books.  Books make me very happy!  They provide an escape from real life and give my imagination a place to stay active and roam freely!  I'm currently reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

7)  My plants.  I've always loved green, growing things, and now I finally have a garden of my own!  Watching my plants grow and learning how to take care of them so they will drive makes me very happy indeed!

8)  Baking, and my ongoing quest to learn to cook well!  I never thought I'd enjoy this aspect of domesticity, but it really does give me a quiet, peaceful and happy feeling.

9)  Watching good TV shows and movies, as well as playing my quest Wii games make me happy.  These all allow me to be pulled into a story--and in the video games, to take part in a story.  It is a satisfying way to spend downtime.

10)  Traveling also makes me happy.  I love seeing new places and meeting new people!  I especially love going places where I can use my Spanish.  Traveling has always been a joy in my life, but now that I get to travel with my hubby, it's even better!
I think number 10 is a good place to stop.  I am so thankful to have so many things and people in my life who bring happiness with them.  I hope I will never stop appreciating how blessed I am!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Olympians!

Let me start by saying that, once upon a time, I was a senior in high school, in love with Greek mythology.  I seriously considered going to a small liberal arts school out of state and majoring in Greek mythology.  But then I remembered that I had wanted to be an Aggie since I was 8, and that as much as I loved Greek mythology, Spanish was a much more marketable degree.  So, off to A&M I went.  But I never did get over my love for Greek mythology and I still take the opportunity to indulge in it when I can--in fact, I still read Edith Hamilton's Mythology.

So, a few weeks ago, Bryan went to Alvin to help one of his riding buddies work on a bike.  I decided that, since it was a Friday night, I was going to go out.  I went and grabbed dinner at McAllisters, and then decided to go to the dollar theater.  I chose Percy Jackson and the Olympians:  The Lightning Thief because I really wanted to see it, and Bryan really didn't.  So, I bought my candy and enjoyed the heck out of my movie!  It was highly entertaining, with some pretty good one-liners, and I especially enjoyed the way the movie took ancient Greek mythology and transposed it to the modern-day world.  Granted, they had to warp a couple of the myths to fit the plot line, but overall I really enjoyed it.  The actors did a great job, and I really enjoyed their interpretation of how the characteristics of the parent gods would manifest in their children. 

I am a firm believer in the saying that the book is better than the movie.  There are possibly a few exceptions (and by that I mean the movie is just as good as the book), but in general this saying holds true.  So this week I went to the bookstore and picked up the written version of Percy Jackson and the Olympians:  The Lightning Thief.

I am happy to say that I've finally found another young adult series that is actually worth a damn!  Lol.  Don't get me wrong, I am sure that many of the young adult series out there are wonderful reads.  However, I've only found three others that I've truly enjoyed--Tamora Pierce's Tortall series, and of course Harry Potter and Twilight (both of which are actually considered young adult--go figure, right?).  Now I get to add a fourth!  The Lightning Thief introduces Percy Jackson, a 12 year old half-blood in the tradition of Perseus (his namesake) and Hercules.  However, instead of Zeus, he is the son of Poseidon and a mortal woman (Sally).  At first, he doesn't know of his immortal father.  However, soon he comes under attack by mythological creatures and learns the truth--that the master lightning bolt of Zeus had been stolen and he (and just about every other god and monster) blames Poseidon's son:  Percy himself.

This sets in motion a grand adventure culminating in a challenging quest.  I won't go into much more than that--if there's one thing I HATE its the plot of a book being spoiled!  I will say that, at the end of the book, Chiron (yes, that Chiron!) mentions a prophecy--which helps to launch the rest of the series.  I've read through book 3--The Titan's Curse--and have really enjoyed it.  The way the author uses the mythology is fascinating, and he even comes up with explanations for things that were glossed over in the movie--like why monsters who were slayed in ancient myths reappear in Percy's story.

I will probably buy the movie when it comes out on DVD.  Even though I enjoy the books more--they have a more thorough storyline--the movie was highly enjoyable.  This weekend I plan to go buy the next two books, which will finish out the series.

Since, as I've said before, I hate spoiling plots, I will not be telling the ending--but I highly recommend y'all go give this series a read.  I think you'll enjoy it as much as I have!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Splash of Aggie

On May 16th Bryan and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary!  It was a wonderful day.  We grabbed lunch at McAllister's and then my sweet hubby suffered through Letters to Juliet so that I could watch the chick flick I wanted to see.  After the movie, we came home and Bryan set up my present--a wonderful hammock!  I made us both mugs of ice cream and we laid on the hammock, eating our ice cream and reading.  Of course, it was super hot so after about 30 minutes we decided on a change of plans.  We disassembled the hammock and took it upstairs!

Before we started reassembling, we looked at the game room, and then at each other.

"Do you want to?" Bryan asked me, with a mischievous look in his eye

"Sure," I smiled back at him.

"Really?!"  I nodded.  And so, we went ahead and....

...went to the Home Depot!  Had you going there, for a minute, huh? lol

We finally decided to paint the accent wall in the game room.  Long ago we had selected two color samples and we decided to go with the lighter shade of, you guessed it, MAROON!!!  We purchased the tinted tintable primer and the can of paint.  Once we got home, we took the first step of taping the wall.

Next step was to crack open the primer and get to work!  Once we were done, had we been going for a gray wall, it would have been perfect!

At this point, it was already pretty late.  We had gone for our anniversary dinner--sushi! and Bryan even found one he likes!  He was so sweet to me.  Anyway, we started on the wall after dinner, so by the time we finished priming the wall it was time for bed.  When we got home from work on Monday, we started with the actual color!
As you can probably tell, the first coat dried thin in some places.  It was very frustrating for me, having never really used a red-type pigment for painting.  I should have done a bit of research before starting--apparently, even with tinted primer, it is normal for red pigment paints to take multiple coats.  We let the paint dry for the night and then picked back up with another can of paint on Tuesday.

I did some technique research before starting, and we also bought a better roller pad.  With the thicker pad and good advice, I painted without pushing down hard on the roller.  The second coat looked great right from the start.
We let it dry overnight and then Bryan untapped the wall.
We cleaned up the painting supplies, and rearranged the furniture.  We put the TV on the old entertainment center and put the futon in the library.  And then, for kicks, we set the hammock back the game room!
I'm just extremely happy to have finally started decorating and arranging the upstairs.  And I have to admit, swinging in the hammock upstairs is much more comfortable than being out in the beginning of the Texas summer heat!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I got a WHAT!?!

A blog award!  I have seen other people give and receive these awards, but I've never before received one myself!  Meredith, over at in sock monkey slippers, picked me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  I am so excited, not to mention extremely flattered--Meredith has an amazing blog, and I absolutely love her baby food recipes!  I will definitely be using them when Bryan and I have a baby (relax folks, that's still a couple of years away).  Thanks so much Meredith!

In order to accept this award, the recipient must complete the following:
  • Thank the person who gave them this award.
  • Share 7 things about themself.
  • Pass the award along to 15 or so bloggers who they have recently discovered and who they think are fantastic!
I definitely accept!  So, 7 things about me.  Here we go!

  1. In high school, I discovered my love for the Spanish language, thanks to two amazing teachers--Sra. W and Sra. M.  My love for Spanish, and a couple of mission trips, led me to believe that I wanted to be a missionary after college--the house building kind, not the pamphlet-wielding kind.  To further that end, I decided to major in Spanish at Texas A&M.
  2. I met my husband our first week at college (Howdy! week) in our Freshman dorm (Lechner Hall).  A month or so later we started dating and, with the exception of a year-long off-and-on period, we've been together ever since.  Due in part to our developing relationship, but mostly because of my changing and evolving faith, I began second-thinking the missionary thing.  Now, I'm glad I did.  As much I would love to help people, I would prefer to do it without the title of Christian Missionary attached.
  3. I have a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.  I have this degree because December of my senior year in college I looked around and realized I would be graduated and in the "real world" in less than six months.  Having never done an internship, and still majoring in Spanish (now with a religious studies minor), I decided that that wasn't a pleasant prospect.  So, I started looking at graduate schools--only to realize that most of the application deadlines for the following Fall had already gone flying by!  Texas A&M was still accepting applications for their Online Masters of Education program--non-thesis option--so that's what I went with!
  4. After two years of teaching, I realize I really love teaching--when I don't have a class size of 30.  I also really love working with my kiddos--when the don't expect me to do everything for them, refuse to take responsibility for their education and actions, and aren't throwing shit fits.  That said, I loathe the educational system and all the political bullshit that goes along with it.  Let's just say the cons WAY outweigh the pros.  I can't wait for the next three years to go by.  At that point, the government will forgive some of my student loans.  Not to mention, that's about when Bryan and I will probably be having a baby (I want a baby sooo badly!  The fever has struck!!!) and I'll get to quit teaching and become a stay-at-home mom.
  5. Stay-at-home mom?!  If you would have told my high school and college selves that I would not only WANT to be a SAHM, but would be avidly anticipating it, they would have laughed at you.  HARD.  I used to think that that would be a waste of an education.  Now, after teaching for two years, I firmly believe that a good education (and I don't necessarily mean a college education here) should be a prerequisite to motherhood.
  6. I have rheumatoid arthritis.  My meds still aren't working perfectly, but I do alright.  When I think about the future, sometimes I get really scared since RA is a progressive disease and I already have plenty of issues with it now.  But for the most part, I just treat it as something to journey with on a day-to-day basis.  It's more manageable that way.  I'm also super-stubborn in respect to my RA--I won't let it get me, or get me down!
  7. I have lots of hobbies--just look at the sections under the hobby tab!  I LOVE to read.  Sci-Fi/Fantasy is my genre of choice, though I will own up to reading one Romance series (Brotherhood of the Black Dagger) and several young adult series.  My Wii is my friend, as are any good quest-type games (think Zelda!).  I'm learning to cook, love to bake, and have recently discovered a love for gardening and, yes, blogging! 
Since I'm still fairly new to the whole blogger community, I don't have 15 blogs to pass along the award to.  But I do have five fantastic ones!

The Nerd's Wife

A Rich Man's Family

The Accidental Baby Maker

Jayaycee Blog

Fresh Confessions of a Screwed Up Texan

I hope y'all enjoy these blogs as much as I have!  Thanks again Meredith!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday!

Time again for another Post-It Note Tuesday!  This blogring was started by Supah Mommy, and I found it through my friend Arena, The Nerd's Wife!  I'd say that this past week flew by, but it didn't.  Hooray for one more week closer to summer!

May Flowers!

It's been a little while since I've done a garden post, and it's definitely time to catch up!  My lovelies have been showing off their beautiful blooms all this month, including my front orchid which is on its fourth or fifth rebloom and the back orchids which have produced a flower apiece!  My two late-blooming mini azaleas have also put in an appearance.  I can't wait to share!

Our magnolia started blooming at the beginning of the month, and still has a flower or two on it now.  I LOVE the smell of magnolia blossoms--it reminds me of summer time at my Dee Dee and Gan Gan's house when I was young.

My pineapple guava plants have also bloomed this year!  I was especially excited about these blooming because last year I only saw two flowers.  This year there were quite a few!  Interesting fact:  if you pull off one of the white petals and eat it, it's actually quite sweet and refreshing!  Very yummy :-).
I also have discovered the name of another plant that I think is just gorgeous.  Even though my husband used the weed wacker on my stalks last year, I am relieved to say that most of my agapanthus (aka Lily of the Nile, aka African Lily) are blooming beautifully.  I'm worried about one of them, but I'll wait and see how it does.
 Another scent that I adore is the smell of gardenias.  We had regular gardenia bushes in the front flower bed at my parents house, so the smell immediately makes me feel at home.  My mini gardenias around the side of the front of the house exploded last week, and the ones in the very front flowerbed have started blooming this week.  Happily this means that every time I leave home or return I get to smell them!
In other plant news, I put my bougainvillea through its first summer prune.  I was really starting to worry about it--most of its leaves had fallen off and it only had a few blooms left.  The stems were all bare and spindly.  That said, ONE DAY after pruning it made an amazing comeback!  I watered it as well, and it got even happier!  I think I've finally got the water schedule down--when the dirt feels dry, water!  It sounds so simple, but with this plant I really have to pay close attention!  I'm just very glad that it has perked back up!  Here's the before and after:
 Another plant that I was afraid I had managed to kill is my ivy.  As you may remember, I attempted to regrow root systems for a couple of cutting from the original plant.  I am happy to say that, so far, it has been a success!  The roots regrew beautifully, and I replanted the cuttings in a clay orchid pot which has very good draining.  So far, the cuttings seem to like the Miracle Grow potting soil and their location on my kitchen window sill.  I keep checking the dirt--I don't want to drown the plant again BUT I don't want to dehydrate it either.  I'll probably water it either tomorrow or Thursday.
All of my plants seem to be happy.  Even our yard, which was horribly neglected by the contractor's landscaping company, has started to prosper under my hubby's amazing care!  In this picture you can see the St. Augustine filling in from the side of the yard (not to mention my sexy husband mowing the yard).  Soon it will squeeze out all of the weed grass!
I sure do love this time of year!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not Me! Monday

"Not Me!" Monday is a blog ring started by MckMama!  It's a ton of fun!  I found it through Arena, over at The Nerd's Wife.

So, for starters, I did NOT forget to do a Not Me! Monday post last week.  NOT ME! With that in mind, I present today's description of things I definitely did NOT do today!

I did NOT consider chucking a pillow at my husband's head when he turned the light on before my alarm went off.  NOT ME! 

I also did NOT contemplate chucking a towel at my husband when he was rushing me to get out the door even though we were actually running a full 15 minutes ahead of schedule.  NOT ME!

For the record, I never entertain violent notions early in the morning.  NOT ME!  I am always sunny and chipper from the moment my eyes open and my feet touch the floor. 

Once at school today, I definitely did NOT spend all of my first period conference time reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians:  The Lightning Thief.  First of all, I would never neglect lesson planning and class prep to read a leisure novel.  Secondly, I never read "young adult" novels--my tastes are much more sophisticated.  (Additionally, I have not reread Tamora Pierce's Alanna series, also "young adult", at least five times.)  NOT ME!

I also did NOT go with Bryan to the bookstore today to buy the next two books in the series.  NOT ME!

When dealing with my students today, I did NOT have to bite my lips to keep from screaming that they were all lazy, irresponsible nincompoops.  First of all, it would have been unfair to those who actually spent the 45 minutes necessary to complete the project due today.  More important, I NEVER want to scream at my students.  NOT ME!

I also did NOT want to start cussing the education system as a whole for making me, the high school Spanish teacher, explain in excruciating detail, why "When I rode a bike" is a sentence fragment instead of a complete sentence, regardless of what language in which it is written.  I would NEVER be tempted to use foul language in my classroom.  NOT ME!

After school, I headed to my MRI appointment.  When reminded that bra under-wires and MRI machines do not get along, I definitely did NOT slip my bra off out from under my shirt (which was still on) in front of the male technician and calmly place it in the locker with my belt and purse.  NOT ME!  I am the soul of modesty, and would never remove an article of clothing without being in a restroom or dressing room.

(The above just goes to show that I have been to see entirely too many medical professionals over the past four years.  I'm definitely not comfortable stripping in front of one or anything, but removing a bra without taking off my shirt?  Definitely no longer an issue.)

When I got home, the very first thing I did was NOT to update my Facebook status countdown of the days until summer.  NOT ME!  Again, I would like to make it clear that I am not ecstatic that the year is about to end, and that the high point of my day is definitely not striking another day from my countdown.

(There are only 7 more days with kids until summer!)

This evening, I definitely did NOT choose Whataburger over cooking stuffed chicken for dinner.  NOT ME!  I never choose the easy-and-bad-for-you option over the not-as-easy-and-healthy option. 

And tonite, I am NOT spending time blogging when I have no idea what I'm going to do for a review lesson tomorrow.  NOT ME!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday!

Time again for another Post-It Note Tuesday!  This blogring was started by Supah Mommy, and I found it through my friend Arena, The Nerd's Wife!  I'd say that this past week flew by, but it didn't.  Hooray for one more week closer to summer!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Teaching Today

This is my 100th post!

And this pretty much sums up both the world of education AND the mentality of an overwhelming number of today's parents:

I thank God on a daily basis for my students who take responsibility for their education.  I also thank God for the seemingly all too few parents who still hold their children accountable for their part in their education AND still hold THEMSELVES accountable and responsible for actually BEING parents to their children, instead of friends and (mentally) fellow teenagers.  God help us all if their numbers don't grow, and soon.


During TAKS week, I went on a baking binge.  I love my junior homeroom kiddos, and since there is no guarantee I'll get them back next year, I wanted to make them cookies for every day of TAKS testing.  Since there were three days, that meant three different kinds of cookies!  I made them white chocolate chip cookies and regular chocolate chip cookies.  And I made them snickerdoodles!

The ingredients:
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
1 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

As always, the very first thing I do when I'm baking is preheat the oven--for this recipe to 375 degrees.  I also generally double this recipe--I never have a problem finding people to eat these snickerdoodles!

The next thing I do is melt the butter in the microwave.  I then measure out the sugar, as well as the cream of tartar and baking soda.  I put all of this into the blender, and mix it on a low-medium speed until combined.

Next I get the eggs (remember, I double the recipe, so there are two eggs!) and measure the vanilla.  I crack the eggs straight into the blender and the pour in the vanilla.  I start the blender back up at low-medium speed until the eggs and vanilla are thoroughly combined.

Now comes the flour.  I measure it out and add it to the mix.  I start the blender out on low so that the flour ends up mixed into the batter instead of on my :-).  Once the flour is mostly mixed in, I bump the mixer up to low-medium to make sure that the flour is thoroughly mixed in.

Now the dough is done!  The recipe calls for a refrigeration period of one hour.  This supposedly makes the dough easier to handle, but it also DRIES IT OUT.  So, I don't do it.  I go ahead and move straight on to the next part of making the snickerdoodles!

First I grease up a cookie sheet.  Next, I measure out the remaining amounts of sugar and ground cinnamon into a regular bowl and thoroughly mix them together.

Now comes the wonderfully fun and messy part!  Form the dough into balls of approximately 1 inch in diameter and then drop them into the bowl containing the sugar-cinnamon mixture.  Then roll the dough ball around in the sugar-cinnamon until it's thoroughly coated.

Once the dough ball is sufficiently coated, place it on the cookie sheet.  Place the cookies at least an inch apart.  I then use whatever might remain of the sugar-cinnamon mixture to dust the dough balls on the sheet.  Often times, there's not much of the mixture left, at which point the cookies simply don't get dusted.  Once I am happy with how the cookies are situated on the cookie sheet, I pop them in the oven.

Each batch bakes for approximately 10 minutes.  Because of the color of the dough, as well as the extra color from the sugar-cinnamon mix, it is difficult to tell when the edges are browning.  My oven burns a little hot, so with this in mind, I cook the first batch for 9 minutes and then check how they're doing.  If they are done, then I bake for 9 minutes, but if not, I keep going until the 10 minute mark.

Once the cookies are done, I place them on a serving tray or platter to cool.  Each batch makes about 36 cookies, so doubling it makes about 70.  These cookies get the most compliments of anything I bake, and whenever my husband or I take them to work, we never bring any home!


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