Friday, January 22, 2010

One Weird, Long Week

Most Fridays I am beyond thrilled that the week is over. This is especially true since I've stopped having classes on Saturdays. But this week takes the cake. It has truly been one of the longest weeks I've experienced this school year.

It started out okay. On Sunday we had family over for a friend's birthday party the night before. Em seemed to not be feeling well, which concerned me, but it seemed like normal kid over excitement. She woke up with a little fever; again, not terribly worrisome because she and I get fevers over nothing. We're hot. :)

We went to breakfast, which was good, but loud and tiring. We came back home and Emerson really didn't seem okay. She took a nap, which is always weird. I wasn't hugely concerned because we had Monday off. I thought that would be plenty of time for her to get over whatever bug she had.

Monday went by and it became very apparent that I was not going to be able to go to work on Tuesday. Emerson's fever never went away and she started to get a terrible cough. So I started in on the preparations for missing a day of work. Called my student teacher, got a sub, and emailed my plans. I also was desperately hoping my desk wasn't a total disaster.

It was a good call to have Em skip day care; she woke up with a 102.5 fever. She spent most of the day watching cartoons, coughing, and being really out of it. I gave Kaiser a call just to be on the safe side, and they set up a phone appointment for the next day because they thought she just had a bad cold.

Tuesday afternoon was a bit hectic. I took Em to school because I had to teach my 8th period. I wasn't sure how much I'd be out this week, and it's important to get a certain number of hours in with my kids. Also, I had to dress up for a board meeting that night. Those of us who finished our admin credential were recognized by the board. It was a nice, positive evening, but it was also a LONG evening. I got home at 8:30 completely wiped out.

I decided to stay home with Emerson again on Wednesday, and in hind sight it might have been better for Justin to do so. He had a rough day. The power went out at his school, his principal dealt with it poorly, and it was so chaotic that Justin ended up with his cell phone stolen. Sigh.

Emerson was getting no better on Wednesday, so I had to become pushy with Kaiser. One nurse I spoke to was particularly condescending; I kept telling her that something seemed wrong, but she kept telling me to wait for my phone appointment with Em's doctor. So I did. As soon as I spoke with the doctor on the phone and explained Em's symptoms, she had me come in.

The actual doctor's visit was quite exhausting for both Em and me. We had to wait for the doctor, go to the x-ray, and come back upstairs for the doctor. Emerson was in the worst mood and really wiped out. I found out why once we went back upstairs. She has pneumonia. Ugh.

I felt vindicated because I was right, but I also felt terrible for my baby girl. I was very hopeful that the antibiotics would help. Of course, a prescription meant one more trip down stairs to the pharmacy. The line there is always super long, and to add insult to injury, I was forced to listen to one of the most inane teenage conversations.

Thursday Justin stayed with Emerson and I made an appearance at work. Luckily, I have really good kids and a great student teacher, so they had been fine without me. The day was filled with both professional disappointment and potential. I got a letter from Lodi Unified saying that I did not get an interview for an assistant principal position. But at the same time, I had heard a few weeks back about a potential position at a local high school. It was (and is a remote) possibility, but I jumped on the opportunity and cold emailed the principal. Luckily, my gamble worked and the opportunity is becoming more solid. Again, it's not a sure bet, but I feel like I'm moving in the right direction.

Today I am home with Em. We slept in, which was greatly needed by both of us. I think she's pretty bored, but I'm running out of ideas of how to entertain a kid who shouldn't be running around. I put her down for a nap. I need to clean up the house a bit. Oh, and maybe change out of my PJ's. Just maybe...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Adventures in Baking

I would not describe myself as domestic. I clean to preserve my marriage. I don't sew. I don't knit. And I cook only if necessary. Even then, my "cooking" typically involves opening a bag of something.

It's not that I'm unskilled in cooking; it's just that other things tend to be more important to me on a daily basis. During the weekend, I'd rather hang out with my family and friends than slave over a slow-cooked meal. During the week, I tend to get home after Justin because I teach an extra period of English after school and because I pick up Em. Also, I like to exercise during the week as much as possible.

The only domestic thing I really like doing is baking, which I don't get to do nearly enough. Typically, the only time I bake in for the holidays, and I tend to bake HUNDREDS of cookies. So, I've become adept at baking cookies, and, even more surprisingly, quite neat at baking cookies. But I don't know how to bake much else.

So I've decided, now that I don't have classes all the time, to explore baking. I'd like to try different desserts, breads, etc and see how they turn out. I will not set up a baking blog because that is WAY too much commitment, but I will chronicle my adventures here. Since November, I have baked pies, cupcakes, and today granola bars.

Thanksgiving Pies
For Thanksgiving, I made three pies: classic apple, apple-cranberry, and triple-chocolate pecan.

Successes: the apple-cranberry was quite tasty. I was a little worried that the apples would not be sweet enough to counter the tart of the cranberries, but it was actually quite balanced. It was very pretty too.

Oopsies: my classic apple baked down way too much and so the top crust collapsed. It was not very pretty and it was very sticky, but the flavor was fine. I don't think I cooked my pecan pie enough, but maybe I just don't like pecan pie. Also, the egg wash on the pecan pie crust was nauseating.

Cheats: I bought the pie crust, partly because making pie crust scares me and partly because I didn't have enough time to make my own crust. I still have pie crusts in my freezer.

Chocolate Cupcakes
During the holidays, I didn't get to make my usual army of cookies, so after Christmas I made cupcakes. I thought it'd be a fun activity for Em and her friend.

Successes: the recipe called for melted chocolate AND cocoa powder, so it was a very rich, dense cake with a lot of chocolate flavor. I was actually pretty pleased with the cake part.

Oopsies: because the cake had so little flour, it was incredibly sticky and hard to get into the cupcake tins. Making the cupcakes took a LOT longer than I thought it would, which is not great when you have two little girls waiting to frost cupcakes.

Cheats: I bought the icing. At some point in my life I need to try to make my own. And my friend ended up frosting most of them. I also used the cupcake foils that you can bake the cupcakes in; I highly recommend these.

Granola Bars
Today I decided to make granola bars with Emerson. I thought they'd be pretty easy and she loves eating granola bars, so I thought they'd make a good snack/breakfast.

Successes: the bars are baking right now, and they smell wonderful. They are a mixture of oats, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, raisins, and nuts (a mixture I had on hand.) I think they'll be fun to make in the future because the options are endless. The actual recipe was quite easy.

Oopsies: because of all the oats (seven cups), this recipe is quite messy. Luckily Justin stayed out of the kitchen, so I was able to cover up my mess...mostly.

Cheats: no cheats on this one. It was a really simple recipe. We'll see how they turn out.

All the baking recipes I use are from America's Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated cook books and magazines. I highly recommend this recipes. They test them beyond thoroughly and they always turn out. I have used dozens of recipes and have mildly disliked only one: the apple-upside down cake. Everything else has been awesome.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009--A Year at a Glance

Many of my Facebook and blogger friends have enthusiastically celebrated the end of 2009 and are VERY excited for the beginning of a new year. Now, as a teacher, I have a different view of things, as my year is just ramping up in January. No New Year here.

However, I noticed I was not as excited to see 2009 go, and I must admit that I'm a little wary about what 2010 may offer. Yes, I am excited for some things, but I also foresee lots of hard work and challenges ahead.

I thought it'd be good to take a month-by-month review of 2009 to see what kind of year I really had. Maybe I can get more excited about the year to come. Or maybe I'll just feel really tired. :)

Here we go:

January--Began my second semester of my grad program and the hardest class of the program. Spent most of the month with splitting migraines.

February--Came to stark reality in terms of my weight when I discovered I had regained all of my "baby" weight for the third time. After celebrating my wedding anniversary, I began Lent with my "real" diet; my starting weight--150 pounds.

March--Welcomed my new nephew Justin to the world. He's been such a wonderful, sweet baby. Held my breath around the 15th and was very happy to get NO pink slip. Kept working on the diet and got to 137 by the end of the month.

April--Celebrated by 30th birthday in Vegas with my sister, bro-in-law, mother, and adorable husband. Had a wonderful Spring break with my daughter, sister-in-law, niece, and new nephew. Lost a couple more pounds and made it to 130, a weight I hadn't been since I was pregnant.

May--Finished up my last graduate class for the semester and actually had a pretty good time doing it. Found out that my school raised its first-time California High School Exit Exam passage five percent to 75%. It was nice to know hard work can pay off and truly benefit kids.

June--Finished the school year, began teaching summer school (hopefully the last time), and celebrated my daughter's third birthday party. Went on a business trip for school for the first time in YEARS. Unfortunately, weight loss stalled.

July--Interviewed for my first quasi-admin job; didn't get it, but survived the experience. Finished summer school and got a mini-vacation. Didn't get to go anywhere like I planned, but had a nice time with my husband and daughter. Jumpstarted weight loss plan and finished July at 125.

August--Started school obscenely early and implemented my admin credential project. Also, began my final semester of the admin credential program. All-in-all, August was tough, but productive. My husband got a teaching job in Stockton, which was amazing given the current teaching climate. I was/am so proud of him.

September--This month was a blur. Literally, I remember nothing about it. But I did get my weight down to 120 for the first time since prior to being pregnant. (BTW, I'm five feet tall and my ideal weight is between 100 and 110...yeah, that's TOTALLY going to happen.)

October--Again, a very blurry month. I do remember feeling very tired and overworked, but October is my second least favorite month of the school year (the worst is March). Halloween was fun; my daughter dressed as Super Girl. Very cute.

November--Family and school-wise, this was a good month. In terms of grad school, I was more than annoyed. I had class every weekend in November because of the Thanksgiving and Veterans holidays. It was tough. Somehow though, I got down to 115, and I have fluctuated between 115 and 120 ever since.

December--This was a very exciting month. I finished my admin credential and my high school's first semester simultaneously. It was very busy, but a very happy month. We celebrated Christmas is the desert, which was both different and fun.

So it's been a very full year. There has been much to celebrate. True, I am looking forward to finishing my graduate degree and hopefully get an admin job in the near future, but I have to say that beginning 2010 leaves me feeling a little wary. Well, there's not much to do besides putting one foot in front of the other and starting the year with a good attitude. It'll be summer soon...