Saturday, September 29, 2007

Time since I ate refined sugar: approximately one week.
Weight lost in past week: somewhere between 1/2 and 1 pound.
Consequence: I now fit into most pre-pregnancy clothes (sort of. 5 lbs to go before really fitting, 15 lbs to go before looking really fabulous). Thus, I spent most of today packing away pregnancy clothes and unpacking regular clothes.
I think so. I'm unwilling to suggest any correlation. It is likely that this just is the time when pounds start peeling off again regardless. Or, perhaps it was just a fluke of the scale.
Time left until I can eat refined sugar again: 3.5 weeks

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 28, 2007

No, sir, not "mistress" 

"Mistress M..." one of my students said to me one day.

"No, not 'Mistress,' 'Misses,' " I corrected.

Seeing the opportunity for a teachable moment, I had the teen lad go look up what mistress meant. Unfortunately for me, the vast majority of dictionaries in our room are children's dictionaries.

"So, it's like the person who is in charge of a household?"

I took the children's dictionary from him. Shoot. I forgot that meaning. No, too tame.

"Go look in the ADULT dictionary," I instructed him. I figured he ought to know what the connotation was and what a faux pas the statement could be. After all, the next Mrs. might not be so understanding.

He looked. His eyes widened, "OHHHH!!!" And then "So it's like a" [mouths quietly] "prostitute?"

Sort of. Hm... how could I explain it? "Yes, only usually just one man. And not necessarily paid."

(Ah... had the principal walked in at that moment...)

I found out later his confusion was in the abbreviation. If we abbreviate "Mrs" then the word MUST have an "r" in it somewhere, right? Ergo, "mistress."

Hm... I can see where he's coming from. I've never really understood where the R came from either.


Well, THAT's a mistake! 

A school counselor introduced me to a student who was transferring into our district from another district in our state. The counselor saw that he had been ESL at his former school, and so assumed he'd be ESL here. We chatted, and I asked him where he was from. Liberia. (Hm... Some American history there) Sweet. What other language did he speak? Just English. "Well, I used to know a little French, when I was, like three." -- pause -- So, I confirmed. "So, your parents speak only English to you at home?" Yep. And you don't speak any other languages? Nope.

I told the counselor he should probably have the student fill out a home language survey. (The first step in determining if a student might be eligible for English as a SECOND language. Basically, it asks you what language(s) you speak at home. Pretty simple.)

A couple days later the student waived to me in the hall, "Not going to be in your class!"

Nope. Didn't think so.

So, the moral of this tale: not all immigrants need to learn English. And there are countries other than the US, UK and Australia that speak English!


Monday, September 10, 2007

Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Gravy 

Tonight I was thinking mashed potatoes. This is not too unusual, it is a common pleasant thought for me, but usually mashed potatoes go with meat in my mind. Since we don't have any meat in the house, this was shaping up into a problem. But once my creative juices got flowing, I cooked up a pretty decent recipe on the fly for those out there who might be trying to cut down on the meat, but still want hearty home-cooked mashed potatoes and gravy with dinner.

Mashed Potatoes:

This part is easy. Just avoid milk and butter. I used hippie butter (Earth Balance), salt and pepper, and if it is too dry you can use a little of the water you cooked the potatoes in. If you are generous enough with the vegetable shortening, you will never miss the dairy.


The vegetables you use can vary. I used about a half of a cup of frozen pearl onions, two green onions, two stalks of celery, and a cup or so of a frozen onions and peppers mix. Start with a generous amount of hippie butter (again Earth Balance) saute up the pearl onions for a while, add the other onions and peppers, green onions, and celery. Saute until they look so good you want to eat them. Add a little more hippie butter if you feel brave, and then throw maybe a 1/4 cup of flour all over everything, stirring it until everything is coated and the flour and butter have thoroughly mixed. Then you add as much vegetable broth as seems prudent (4 cups? 5 cups? I really have no idea how much I used, sorry) and let it cook a little. It should thicken up quickly with no lumps. I also used a very little bit of Lipton onion soup. I am not sure that that stuff is really vegan, though, and I don't think it was necessary. Garlic and pepper to taste, depending on the broth you use, you may not need salt.

The result was a sucsess, L really liked it, as did I. Paired with biscuits, corn and applesauce, we were in hearty-home-cooked heaven. (I know, the biscuits are not vegan, we are not good at staying pure.)

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Goodbye Adam Smith 

We recently experienced a tragedy in our household. A love one has stopped functioning. I speak of Adam Smith, a Dell Inspiron 2650 with a 20 gig hard drive, CDRW-DVD combo drive, 512 megabytes of RAM and a 1.7 gigahertz processor. Oh, yes, and it had a floppy disk drive. I expect that to be the last one I ever own. It was the first computer I ever purchased.

This little friend joined my side on Christmas Day 2002 just before I headed to Oxford for a semester abroad. It brought me through many an oxford essay, an internship research project in Atlanta, two semesters of college assignments at Bethel, two years of economics graduate school research, countless hours of web browsing and emails, and more video games than I care to remember.

A little over a year ago, it then passed to my beautiful wife, who treated it well and planned many hours of teaching on it. It plugged away for her until a few weeks ago, when the whirring sound turned to a clicking sound, accompanied by the unencouraging message "Operating System Not Found." It did not take long to figure out that the operating system was gone because the hard drive was gone.

Adam Smith R.I.P.

Since L needed a computer, we purchased a new one for her. This one is named Cyril, which will not exactly fit the theme (my current computer is named John Maynard Keynes, and our wireless network is Milton Friedman), but that's what happens when you let your wife choose the name. Cyril is a much nicer new computer, you can see a picture to the left.

Bonus points for anyone who knows who her computer is named after. Those who have known L well for a while should know. If you don't recognize any of the other names we need to have a little chat.

He should serve L well. Welcome to the family Cyril. Goodbye Adam Smith.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

E pics of the weekend 

AHH!!!! It's a long weekend! Time to do some of my favorite things. Like smile at people....
Eat REALLY REALLY yummy peaches. (MMM... Mom would take this peach away from me, and I'd lunge toward it, that's how much I loved it!!! SOOO sweet!)
And learn to cook! FINALLY!
Oh, and as always, play with my tongue.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

What if I ... ? 

Two or three kids, either in a gang or at high risk for gang activity. Two kids, newly immigrated, one wants to graduate this year (she's brilliant, I think she can). One kid who's been here three years but still struggles with comprehension. One who has a secret she's only shared with me. A secret I can relate to, and I love her for having the courage to face at such a young age. I know her life will be forever changed in good ways because of her bravery. Then there's one I haven't met yet.

And I only have nine students. I am not listing their stats off so that you feel sorry for me, I don't see any of these kids as "tough kids." I've taught them for a week and there are two that are less than enthusiastic about work, but never rude. This is not beyond what I can do. I list off these stats so you can understand how much my heart aches when I say -- One week and I really like so many of them. Especially the auto mechanic and the one with the secret. Unconsciously many prayers have seeped from my heart.

"What if I stumble, what if I fall? What if I loose my step and I make fools of us all? Will the love continue, when the walk becomes a crawl... what if I stumble?"

I wonder if, when I'm done, these kids will really have any idea of how powerful love, hope, and the creator of both really is. And the Creator of both must come in to play. I don't have the strength to love these kids as much as I want to on my own. I am not good enough to alone show them Goodness, and the power therein.

I want to do my job better than anyone before me has.

And I am irate that the books I ordered in July, the first week of the fiscal year, (so that they'd be here by mid August, are NOT HERE YET. I have lesson plans, but no materials for my intermediate students. And I don't know when they'll be here. And even if they do come, I didn't order enough books.

I'm losing hair.

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