Monday, November 24, 2008

Teenagers- Keepin' It Real

I teach high school students...everyday...

I know, I know...

It's okay though- don't feel too sorry for me.

The upside is this- It keeps me on my toes so I'll know exactly how to spy on my kids when they are older; I occasionally get good fashion tips (OCCASIONALLY); and they provide good laughs

For instance, just today I overheard this conversation:

"This morning I set my shoe on fire to see what it would do." said Boy 1

"What did it do?" replied Boy 2

"It caught on fire" Boy 1 retorted

"Seriously?" Boy 2

"Seriously man- just as soon as I lit it, it totally caught on fire." Boy 1

This is your future people- let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sunday Supper - Edition 2

Okay- so Thanksgiving is Thursday and the kiddos aren't around on Sunday this week, soooooo we are having French Dips. These things are beyond fabulous, and they are incredibly easy to make. And the best part? They cook in the crock-pot, so it's brainless.

French Dip
1 2-3 pound bottom round roast (or chuck roast)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons of rosemary leaves (dried)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use the less sodium kind)
1/2 cup hot water

6 rolls (I buy Asiago cheese rolls from Kroger- they are crusty and so good)
Swiss cheese slices

Put the roast in the crock pot and sprinkle the garlic salt, pepper, thyme, & rosemary on the roast. Drop in the bay leaf. Pour the soy sauce and hot water in the pot. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Shred the meat with a fork; place on rolls, add a slice of cheese. Use juices for dipping.

That's if folks! And believe me, they will think you are a genius!

Asian Slaw
8 oz. bag of slaw
1 bunch of green onions chopped
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup roasted almonds
1 pkg. of Oriental flavored ramen noodles crushed (save the flavor packet- you'll need it for the dressing)

1 flavor packet from Oriental ramen noodles
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar

Mix slaw and onions. Put nuts, seeds, and noodles together, but don't add to the slaw until just before serving. When you're ready to serve- put the nut mixture in and pour dressing over it all and mix.

We usually have roasted new potatoes or shoestring french fries too. We'll probably forgo dessert as Thanksgiving dessert offerings will be obscene. I'll put recipes up on Tuesday for those just in case you want to give one a go!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Channeling Ingrid Bergman

I took an online quiz that supposedly tells you which throw-back actress you are most like. Turns out, I'm Ingrid Bergman. We'll see...
"I am unique" (what they mean is "weird, but in an endearing way")

Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

How to Get Along with Me
* Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.(Chocolate is also appreciated and goes quite a long way in interpersonal relationships)
* Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.
* Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision. (Especially in matters of fashion and food)
* Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.
* Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting! (Seriously, don't)

What I Like About Being an Ingrid
* my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level
* my ability to establish warm connections with people
* admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life
* my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor
* being unique and being seen as unique by others
* having aesthetic sensibilities
* being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What's Hard About Being an Ingrid
* experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair
* feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved
* feeling guilty when I disappoint people
* feeling hurt or attacked when someone misunderstands me
* expecting too much from myself and life
* fearing being abandoned
* obsessing over resentments
* longing for what I don't have

Ingrids as Children Often
* have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games
* are very sensitive
* feel that they don't fit in
* believe they are missing something that other people have
* attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.
* become anti-authoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood
* feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce) (or in my case- as a result of The Love Boat going off-air)

Ingrids as Parents
* help their children become who they really are
* support their children's creativity and originality
* are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings
* are sometimes overly critical or overly protective
* are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed

If you want to take the quiz click here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sunday Supper - Edition 1

Sundays are special times at our house. We go to church, we usually go to our favorite tex-mex place afterward for lunch, and then we go home to change clothes and play for the rest of the day. Everyone's favorite part of the day is....SUPPER!!!!!

I have to admit- I can cook- Paula Deen has nothing on me. So I thought I'd share what we're planning on eating for supper on Sunday each Saturday just in case you'd like to try it too. This week I swear I will introduce you to the final three in the family- V., Coach, and me- Mama K (that is the name I've earned myself at the high school where I teach).

Like I said- I can cook which has made me really popular with all our favorite single male friends; anyone having a baby, suffering an illness, etc.; and some of my students. (It all started with a bet I made two students about the Tennessee vs. Georgia football game this fall- I made the bet in April of 08- I had no idea the team would become an absolute train wreck this fall- but hey- Go Vols! - Anywhoo- I made a bet with two future Bulldog athletes that if UT lost I would cook them dinner- if they won- they had to take me to dinner- I lost... So, guess who's coming to dinner?)

Anyway- Coach works hard with the boys he coaches to teach honor and thankfulness and integrity- so he brags on me a lot (blush....). Now they all beg to come over so they look for things to bet on that are weighed heavily in their favor. And I love it, I absolutely love it. We teach in an affluent private school- and some of our kids suffer a deprivation that is heartbreaking- they drive cars that cost more than I make in a year, but they don't have the attention of their parents- so we try to be a safe place. Some of the kids have great parents- but as any parent knows- the more help the better- it actually does take a village- so we've partnered with parents to keep kiddos safe- sometimes they will talk to me or Coach when they wouldn't normally talk to a parent- it's a responsiblity we don't take lightly. But- I digress (as I so often do).

So- here's what we're eating tomorrow:

Braised Brisket
  • 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 head of cloves - cut in half
  • Coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 (4 lb) beef brisket
  • Olive oil
  • 3 Large Carrots cut into chunks
  • 1 Onion halved
  • 2 Celery stalks cut into chunks
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes (crush by hand)
  • 3/4 Bottle of dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary (leaves only)
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme (leaves only)
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 325.

Drizzle brisket liberally (seriously, liberally) with olive oil, then season meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Place in a large Dutch oven or heavy-based pot over medium-high heat and add some olive oil (I don't know how much- just "some" pour until you count to 3). Place the brisket in the pot and sear on both sides to form a brown crust. Remove from pot and set aside. Add carrots, onion, and celery. Brown vegetables, then add the tomatoes, red wine, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and parsley. Add the brisket back to the pot, cover and roast in the oven for 3 hours until the brisket is fork tender. Remove the brisket to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes. Strain out the vegetables and pour out some of the excess fat, then pour over the brisket. Slice brisket across the grain and serve over the AWESOME potatoes (to follow)

Serves 6-8

AWESOME POTATOES ("Champ" as Williams-Sonoma calls them) This is an Irish recipe- yummy!

  • 3 Cups of lager-style beer
  • 3 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6 green onions, white and green portions, thinly sliced
  • 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter (optional)

Pour the beer into the bottom pan of steamer, place steamer incsert inside and cover the pan. Set pan over medium heat and bring beer to a simmer. Add the potatoes to the insert, cover and steam until tender, about 25 minutes.

Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, add the green onions and mash with a handheld masher until the mixture is mostly smooth, with some small pieces left unmashed. Add the 4 tablespoons of butter, then gradually add the cream, beating constantly with a wooden spoon until the potatoes are creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the potatoes to a large serving bowl and make a well in the center. Puor the 3 tablespoons of butter into the well and serve immediately.

Serves 8

Red Onions Roasted with Balsamic and Honey

  • 3 red onions, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 325.

Put the onions on a jelly-roll pan, cut side up- drizzle with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey. Season with salt and pepper- then top each with a pat of butter and fresh thyme. Bake for 40 minutes, until the onions are soft and caramelized around the edge.

6 servings

Death by Chocolate (My dear old friend Amy- who lives in Houston- gave me this- it will "make your tongue slap your brain" as Coach says)

  • 1 boxed brownie mix prepared (I used Ghiradelli Double Chocolate)
  • 1- 6 pack of Jello Chocolate pudding ( I use the fat-free as if it really matters at this point)
  • 6 Full size Heath bars
  • 1 big tub of Cool Whip- (Again- I use the fat-free- but at this point it doesn't really matter)

Cut the brownies in half- crumble the first half on the bottom. Cover with 3 pudding cups, 1/2 of the cool whip, and 3 crushed Heath bars. Repeat- brownies, pudding, cool whip, crushed Heath bars.

This one is sooooooo easy and soooooooooo good. It is hands down, my family's favorite dessert.

Enjoy your dinner- and let me know how it goes. If you make any substitutions or improvements, I'd love to hear them! Happy Sunday- love big!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Face to Face with Maverick

Picture it- I'm sleeping soundly, the room is a comfortable 56 degrees (totally serious- hormones apparently are not my friend), I have the ceiling fan going on high (Coach affectionately calls it the North Wind) when the dogs start barking and acting weird. They proceeded to bark incessantly all night- so, I spent my entire night getting up letting them out- they would run around the yard chasing what I thought to be a squirrel or something stupid- putting them back to bed, and then they would start again. They kept on…and on…and on… until 4:00 am… Finally, Coach got up- went outside and met Maverick on the deck to his great surprise…

This is Maverick- 100% pure bred Pit Bull and 100% not ours- all 120+ pounds of him. (His owner said he weighed in a little over 120 at his last vet visit) Is that blood around his muzzle? You've gotta feel for the kid (a college kid)- he was distraught this morning- said he was so worried that someone would shoot Maverick because of the way he looks. No, really? You think?

Through a long and involved process that involved a sheriff’s deputy and a middle of the night/wee hours of the morning Google search, we located the father of Maverick's owner- a funeral embalmer named Clyde (absolutely serious, I couldn't make this up if I tried) who lives nearby.

We put our heads together and devised and ingenious plan to get rid of the monster dog. I was to keep Coach on the cell phone to alert him of any movement from the dog while he sprinted from the garage to his truck. I was assigned to distract the dog. (I figure what better way to distract and calm a gargantuan pit bull than with perpetual camera flashes???) So, naturally I photograph Mr. Maverick whilst Coach makes a getaway.

Naturally, the next step is to go bang down the door of Mr. Funeral Embalmer at 4:00 AM.Oddly, and might I say much to Coach's dismay, there was no answer to his midnight rapping. So, Coach calls Mr. Funeral Embalmer (thanks to the wonder of Google) and again, gets no answer. Coach comes home- "gets a visual on the dog" (and I phrase it this way because that is exactly what Coach said. Turns out- the dog didn't really appreciate the flash so he took off running into the dark of the yard just as Coach returned from Mr. Funeral Embalmer's house. I told him to just make a run for the door and he said, "I'm not getting out of this car until I get a visual on the dog" So now things are so totally cool because it feels like we're in an episode of CSI, but I have gotten off on a tangent) - So, he gets the aforementioned "visual" on the dog and proceeds to high step it to the house. We get one hour of uninterrupted bark-free sleep.

Don't you worry though- this story ain't over yet, sweet Maverick waited for us all night. He laid in wait in the creek behind the house hoping our dogs would come out this morning. Fast forward 90 minutes, Coach let our two dogs out to eat and use the facilities when-- UP FROM THE CREEK HE AROSE- Coach said it was like being in a bad 80's horror movie. The dog literally came bounding up the bank from the creek toward Coach and the dogs. So another high-steppin' run later our three were back to the safety of the garage.

Finally at 8:00 am, and again- a loooooooooooong story, Coach contacts the owner by phone- said owner tells Coach to call the dog by name (which we find out at this time is, in fact, Maverick- sure, of course it is, what better name for a 120 pound pit bull with blood red eyes?) and grab him by the collar (yeah right) and hold him until he gets there.

The finale? Sweet Maverick is now back with Mr. Funeral Embalmer and none of us were eaten for breakfast. (The picture does not do him justice- really my whole head would fit in his mouth with room to spare)… Notice the red eyes- that’s not the flash…that’s the evil coming out.

And of course, this would only happen at our house.

Sit, Maverick, sit. Good dog.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Make a Joyful Noise

The baby; the second child; the girl; the princess. Yep, that's what came next. Much to G's dismay, just short of his fourth birthday, God delivered a baby girl to us via a sweet teenaged mom named Lindsey. Because of complications after G. was born, I had to have an emergency hysterectomy to save my life, and so God completed our family through adoption. Soon, I will tell that story, I just want to make sure that I give Lindsey the honor of a full post about her sacrifice and decision, and today- well, today is about AC-(aka "Pea Pod" or "ToughPriss").

My mom called her "joyfully disobedient" when she was just a toddler. Enough said? Oh no- not yet. That doesn't begin to tell the story- but I don't know if anything could tell the whole story.

I need to confess something. Until August of 2000, I judged parents based on the behavior of their children. I would look at parents who had children spiraling into some sort of sugar fit and just shake my head in pity and disdain. G. was such an easy baby- slept through the night at 3 1/2 weeks; never got sick; didn't cry much; traveled well; and was generally a happy little dude. As he got older he was VERY obedient, easily taught, and by nature he is a "pleaser." He didn't cry in restaurants, didn't throw tantrums, and adhered to my schedule without so much as a whine. The parenting thing was a breeze- I couldn't for the life of me figure out why my other friends were having issues and talking about the difficulties of being a new mother. Parenting was a walk in the park.

Don't you just love how God just lets you get good and smug in your self-righteousness before he lets the floodgates open?

August 21, 2000- the gates opened and the water flowed. AC has been a whirlwind of activity. Now don't get me wrong- she is a delight- an absolute delight. And since I offered no DNA, I have no problem telling you the child is gorgeous. And she's smart, and she has a personality that draws people to her. I swear, when she was an infant, going to the grocery was a 2 hour ordeal because she waved and smiled and flirted, and we ended up talking to almost everyone in the store. I used to swear that I could go to the grocery with Julia Roberts and get much less attention.

She is brutally honest, not one bit shy, and has never met a stranger. As a matter of fact, just Friday night she befriended Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Albert Haynesworth (Titans Football Player) all in a matter of 90 minutes at a local high school football game. Of course, I missed all of it because I was watching the game, but she came back and told me about Faith and Tim's family, and showed me the autograph she got from Mr. Haynesworth. Oh yes- the child never misses a beat.

So, I told you she is a pretty little thing. She was just as darling as a two year old. Garrett's favorite AC story is the one where she got punished for drawing on the walls (for the gazillionth time).
So, the backstory is- she colored on the wall a gazillion times. I told her if she did it again I would have to spank her. Fast forward 20 seconds- I find another mural in Sharpie on the wall behind her bed. (Keep in mind the child is 2!). So, I go down to get her Sharpie in hand. She sees said Sharpie and walks directly to me with her little head down. Now- she's in little yellow footie pajamas with a duck on them and she smells like baby lotion and Johnson's shampoo- so already it's a heartbreaker. I pick her up and ask her what she did.

"I draw you picture mommy."

"I see that- didn't I tell you not to draw on the walls?"


"Why did you draw on the walls then?"

"Because it's prettier."

"Well, you know what I have to do right?"

"I get a spankin'."

"Yep. AC I don't like to spank you."

"It's okay momma." (first stab of the heart)

So we start to walk upstairs so that I can spank her and then throw myself off the roof- AC singing a song, me fighting back tears. (What is wrong with this picture?)


"What AC?"

"Will you sing me a song about Jesus?" (stab #2)

And there you have it- parental failure to launch punishment- toddler masters the fine art of manipulation.

She is a joy; a tiresome joy. I am not a high-energy person; she is. I am not an extrovert; she is. I am not a morning person; she is. I used to think of myself as a talker-I'm not; she is. She is compassionate, she is loving, she is a natural mother, and she is wild. Seriously, she is wild, she is rebellious, she is free-spirited, AND- the kid has got some serious spunk.

Beth Moore talks about how her youngest, Melissa, was a difficult child to parent. In so many ways, AC is like Melissa. So, when Beth wrote this I wept. Partly because I was thrilled for Melissa and her upcoming wedding. But, mostly because I was tired.-I mean pray for the second-coming kind of tired. It had been one of those days with AC that made me pray that she wouldn't hate me when she was older, because it felt so much like I was just on her all day long. Beth's letter offered hope and comfort that strong-willed, rebellious girls can turn out to be great lovers of Christ. So now, my prayers are a little different in regards to my Pea Pod, and our days are much better.

And she is a daily reminder that life is precious, family is precious, and at the end of the day, when things start looking really bleak- maybe we should get down off the roof and just sing ourselves a song about Jesus.