Monday, September 29, 2008

shopping with my mommy

I left work early tonight to go shopping with my mom. We went to Schweser's, a clothing store, because we had 5% off coupons that expire tomorrow. I've never been a big fan of Schweser's--I've always thought of it as an old lady store--but one of my good friends has recently bought lots of cute clothes there, so I thought I'd give it a chance.

We went to Columbus, which is 45 miles northeast of Central City, because we'd heard it was a bigger store than the one in the mall in Grand Island. Yeah, I'll say it's bigger! It has three floors! Mom kept saying it reminded her of an old time department store.

Mom has been looking for a brown jacket to match one of her skirts for about a year, and she found one today, along with several other things. I got two dressy (but not too dressy) shirts for work and a dress for my brother's wedding! And the best part is, nearly everything in the store was 55% off!!!

the decision is made

Thanks to all of you who prayed for me as I agonized over my decision. Yesterday, I finally made it.

For the past year or so, I've been thinking about going back to the church I attended when I lived in Grand Island. This summer, I started praying about it. For the last week, I've been agonizing over the decision.

When I'm faced with a hard decision, I tend to just put it out of my mind . . . which is why I've been thinking about this for a year without acting on it! I don't know why, two weeks ago, it suddenly became important to actually make a decision--the only thing I can figure is that God was pushing me because it's not like there's something at either church that would require me to decide now.

A few things made my decision very difficult, but the biggest factor was that all of my family members who live in this area attend the church I've been attending, the church I grew up in. Family is very important to me, and thinking about leaving the church they all go to, even though I really wanted to be somewhere else, was stressful.

Two Sundays ago, I visited the church in Grand Island. I loved it, and I really felt like that was where I was supposed to be . . . but I still didn't want to rush into a decision. So I decided to keep praying about it and go back last Sunday. About midway through the week, I decided that I really wanted to make the change, so I began praying that if it was the wrong decision, God would make it very apparent. I'm not sure if that was the best way to go about it, but it's what I did.

So, yesterday, I went to church and checked "regular attender" on the attendance card. Now that it's done, I'm so relieved--and very excited!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

safe haven?

I love my state, but this is absolutely insane.

under the microscope

I had my first classroom observation today. The first. Ever.

I'm in my fourth year of teaching, but I didn't take a normal route to the classroom. I took one education class at my community college; I decided then that I didn't want to be a teacher. In my second year at NC, my then-boss asked me to start a writing class for our international seniors. The next year, I began teaching ESL. I've worked my way up to two ESL classes, yearbook, speech, and a study hall that may as well be biology. (Trust me, I'm not too effective as a biology teacher!)

Since I never had any formal teacher training, I missed out on the whole student teaching experience. I don't know why I was never observed in the past three years, but I wasn't.

This year, my boss decided to be more intentional about getting into the classroom--and today, it was my turn to be observed. While I wasn't overly nervous about it, it had been on my mind all week. We're in the middle of a parts of speech overview in my Intermediate ESL class, and at the end of last week, I realized that today would be the day we'd get to articles. I love teaching articles, as I've taught them for the past four years, and I really feel confident in my lesson.

So yesterday, I gave a pronoun quiz . . . and when I graded the quiz, I realized that my class didn't understand pronouns as well as I thought they did. I thought about spending today's class fully explaining pronouns--but then I would have had to go into subjective and objective case, and they don't have a clue about objects or predicate nouns or anything like that yet. At midnight, I still didn't know what I was going to do today.

I finally decided to go over pronouns a little bit, then introduce articles. Today was also the day for the weekly vocab quiz and journaling, so I figured I'd have enough material for the 50 minutes. I got everything laid out on my desk in the order I'd need it--much more organized than normal!

Then my boss walked into the room. I still didn't have butterflies, but my hands started shaking! The opening, quiz, and pronoun lesson went well. Then I went to start on articles and couldn't find my notes! My heart seriously stopped. Inside, I was totally panicking, although I think I covered pretty well by moving on to the journal assignment. As the students wrote down the assignment, I found my notes . . . exactly where they were supposed to be. The articles lesson went pretty well, but we still had about 10 minutes left, so I gave them study time. I hope that was OK . . .

My boss left with a couple minutes of class time remaining, and I felt like a giant weight had been lifted. After class, I ran into another teacher in the hall, and she asked if the boss had been observing me. When I told her he had, she said she always feels sick when he walks into her classroom--and she's been teaching for 20-some years!

I'm SO glad it's over, though I'm not too excited about reading the evaluation. (He has plenty of material--he brought his laptop in, and he was typing the entire time he was in the room.)

I hope this observation thing doesn't happen very often!

Monday, September 22, 2008

tossing and turning

That's all I seemed to do last night. Two hours after I went to bed, I was still awake. Normally when I can't sleep, there's no good reason for it. But last night, I knew the reason: I have a big decision to make--a decision I've been contemplating for about a year. The thing is, it's now time to actually make the decision, rather than just think about making it.

Tonight, Proverbs 3:5-6 came to my attention. I've known these verses at least since Kindergarten, but I haven't stopped to think about their meaning for a long time.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths."

crazy? you bet!

Steph wanted pizza last Friday, but I didn't want to take the time to make our normal homemade crust. Searching through Mom's recipes, I found one from my aunt called Crazy Crust Pizza. It looked fairly quick and simple, so I decided to go for it. I knew it would be different, as it called for 4 eggs and only 2 cups of flour . . . but I had no idea just how different! Fortunately, I had my camera:

1. Mix all ingredients until smooth; spread in pan. Add meat, and bake for 25 minutes. I chose to ignore the meat directions--why would I put the meat on before the sauce? Well, perhaps the meat would serve to hold down the crust; when I opened the oven to check on the crust 15 minutes into the baking time, this is what I saw:
2. When I took the crust out after the full 25 minutes, it looked like this:
3. After I beat on it with a spatula, it looked a little more normal:
4. Add the sauce . . .

5. And cheese. And in my case, meat:

6. And here's the final product. It looks like a normal pizza!
The crust was surprisingly good . . . until the next day. I usually love day-old pizza, but not this stuff. The crust took on a funky texture and flavor. So, beware of Crazy Crust Pizza . . . or at least follow the recipe :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

our state fair is a great state fair . . .

OK, so it's not our state fair I was at . . . this weekend, I went to the Kansas State Fair for the 26th time.  It's a bit of a family tradition, you could say.  We had a great time, and here are a few pics from the weekend.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

mountain dew, mint brownies, and pandora

I'm up late proofing the Advance. I knew it would be a late night, but I didn't realize just how late. I need to get the edits to Beth tonight so she can finish it tomorrow. Here are a few of the things keeping me awake and sane while I work:
  • Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi
  • Code Red Mountain Dew (caffeine and sugar!)
  • Pillsbury Mint Chocolate Brownies (thanks, Steph!)
  • DayQuil (yes, I have a cold--as do about half the people associated with NC. What's the deal? It's the beginning of September!)
  • Pandora Radio--how could I have forgotten about this website? It's amazing! Earlier, I was listening to movie music--John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Alan Menken. Now, I'm listening to a station I created last time I used Pandora, which was in 2006--my last three songs were "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)", "I Swear", and "What's Left of Me." And yes, I'm singing along. Now I've got "Here Without You," which always makes me think of Elvis Stojko. I'm pretty sure I monopolized the binoculars when Holly and I saw him at Champions on Ice ;-)
  • Scramble on Facebook. I'm so addicted. It's like Boggle. I'm pretty bad at it, which is evidenced by the fact that Kate slaughters me each time we play, but it's such fun!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

responsible teens

My yearbook staff has been selling ads during class for the past week. After they got back today, my mom took a call from one of the businesses some of the boys visited. My first thought when Mom told me about the call was oh no, what did they do now? I trust them, but still, they're teenagers, and I wouldn't put it past them to have a lapse in judgment.

But no. The lady was calling to let us know how professional and respectful the boy who had sold them the ad had been.

I feel like a proud mama bear :-)

Friday, September 5, 2008

it's the thought that counts

I had extra time this morning--don't ask me how that happened--so I decided to make some coffee. I got out my travel coffee maker, which brews two 15-oz. travel mugs of coffee. I got it all set up for one mug; then I decided I should take some coffee for my mom, too. So I added water and coffee, made sure the mugs were firmly in their slots, and turned it on. I went back to my room to finish getting ready. Just as I was ready to leave, I went back to the kitchen to grab the coffee . . . and saw a countertop covered in brown liquid! It was everywhere. I couldn't figure out what went wrong. At first, I thought I'd put a little too much water in, and it had run over. . .but judging by the mess on my counter, it was more than a little too much. Then I moved the second mug and realized it was empty. I'd forgotten to turn the switch from one mug to two, so the entire 30 ounces tried to go into one 15-oz. cup! Oops!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

thursday thoughts

A smattering of the things I've been thinking about today:
  • Why do I always feel compelled to use my nice, 12-cup coffee maker whenever I want coffee? The instructions say not to make fewer than six cups at a time, so I always make that much and then have two or three cups left over to get nasty. I have a coffee maker designed for travel mugs . . . so why don't I just use that? Maybe because the 12-cup lives on the counter, and the travel maker stays in the cupboard. Guess I'm just lazy . . .
  • After my post about Google Reader, The Omaha Critic stopped by to leave a comment. So I should tell you that I did enjoy his blog. If you like food (and who doesn't!), you should check it out . . . but I still can't figure out why Google Reader recommended it!
  • I think my landlord is trying to prevent a lawsuit. I came home tonight and noticed a neon orange line on the sidewalk. At first I thought the phone or electric company was marking something. Then I noticed two similar lines--all in areas where the sidewalk is uneven.
  • How can I become more productive during the day? I feel like I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off--class, office, class, lunch (in the office), class, office--and I'm not accomplishing much amidst all the running.
  • I just learned, thanks to Food Detectives on the Food Network, that the average Thanksgiving dinner has 3,000 calories. Yikes! Also, if you get gum stuck in your hair, you should use corn oil to get it out.
  • I'm no fan of Rudy Giuliani, but his speech at the convention last night sure cracked me up.
  • Gloria Steinem ticks me off. (Some of you are saying, "Duh!" right now.) She wrote an opinion piece for today's L.A. Times, in which she says that Sarah Palin "opposes everything most other women want and need." Um, yeah. Ms. Steinem certainly didn't ask me what I want and need. I think what Steinem means is that Palin is pro-life and pro-abstinence, so she must be anti-woman. Does Steinem really believe that most women are pro-choice? I'll give her that most of the women she knows would be offended by Palin, but most women period? I don't think so. (Off topic, but a fun little tidbit about Steinem: she used to be married to Christian Bale's dad.)
  • Cal Thomas, on the other hand, said, much more eloquently than I could, pretty much what I've been thinking ever since Bristol Palin's pregnancy was announced.
  • I have a great group of kids in yearbook. Granted, we haven't actually started working on pages yet, but we're having fun getting to that point. Yearbook was the most dreaded part of my schedule, but so far, it's one of the best parts of my day!
  • Sam's Choice Decaf Coffee is surprisingly good.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

highs and lows of the last week

  • road trip with Val
  • worship at Christ's Covenant (the church I attended in college)
  • visiting Jen in South Bend; meeting up with Sarah in Des Moines as we each crossed Iowa
  • Sarah Palin--you go, girl!
  • the meal Val's roommates had waiting for us when we arrived at Grace
  • finding a shortcut on the way home
  • seeing my Sparkies again!
  • fast food on the way to Indiana (more to follow!)
  • leaving Val
  • not being able to sleep
  • my schedule--I'm so busy and stressed and unable to accomplish everything I need to in an 8 hour work day

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

free music!

I love Google Reader. It helps me keep track of all the blogs I follow (the number keeps growing!), and it suggests blogs I might enjoy. I'm not quite sure how it comes up with its suggestions--take, for example, the suggestion of The Omaha Critic . . . which is restaurant reviews--but sometimes it comes up with a good one.

This morning, it suggested Phil Wickham's blog. I'm not overly familiar with him, but I know some of his music. ("After Your Heart" plays quite a bit on K-Love and KROA.) For some reason, his voice reminds me of Phillip LaRue (and if you're wondering whatever happened to LaRue, I just found Phillip's MySpace page--he's signed with Tooth & Nail, and he has curls again :-) ). But back to Phil Wickham . . . I went to his blog and discovered he's giving away his newest album! All you have to do is sign up to receive his newsletter. Sounds like a pretty good trade off to me!