April 29, 2010

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

Thirty minutes ago, I watched the love of my life drive away from my house for the last time (at least for the foreseeable future). This weekend, he's off to New York to start a new job as a forensic psychologist - a job he's been waiting and hoping for since his internship ended in September.

I am excited for him to start this new adventure. This is pretty much the perfect job for him right now. He gets to work with the his ideal clientele, and he'll be building the necessary skills to open his own practice one day. He's been working so hard for so long to make this happen, and I'm thrilled to cheer him on from the sidelines.

But the truth is... I never could have imagined how hard it would be to watch him go. He's so much more than just my boyfriend. He's my best friend in the world. And I'm barely able to see the monitor through my tears as I think about how hard it'll be to not be able to see him... hold him... kiss him.

I miss him already!

April 20, 2010

Sorry, Grandma!

This post is for anyone (Annie) who might use the Greek Salad recipe I posted earlier. Grandma wrote and requested that I modify the recipe a bit. As you can see, I don't do a whole lot of cooking, and I missed some (minor to me but clearly important) details!

The changes are in italics for your convenience.

Costume Question

I'm not normally a Glee watcher, but I tuned in this evening to see the Madonna tribute. Overall, I was very pleased with the episode, but I did see something - something that has probably gone unnoticed by the vast majority of people watching - but something that hit home for me.

***I should probably warn Glee fans not to continue reading if you haven't yet seen this week's episode in case of any spoilers***

In tonight's episode, Mercedes and Kurt joined the Cheerios for a special performance. My issue is not with their lack of loyalty to the glee club, as one might expect, but it is with the uniform worn my Mercedes. Perhaps you didn't notice, but she was the only girl not wearing the Cheerios skirt. Instead, she wore the uniform pants (worn only by male cheerleaders).

Maybe you're wondering, "What's the big deal?" But you see... it totally brought me back to a place of my own insecurity.

In eighth grade, I was on my junior high cheerleading squad. When our coach distributed our uniforms, though, we found that there was only one in my size. Unfortunately for me, there were two of us who needed that size, and I was not the proud recipient of said skirt.

My coach immediately called the cheerleading apparel companies, trying to find another skirt for me, but the truth of the matter was that our skirts were so old that no one sold them anymore. Her solution: buy me an alternate skirt. Sounds reasonable, right?

The problem was, my skirt looked nothing like the others. Theirs were red with giant, white pleats in the middle. Mine was plain red. I stuck out like a sore thumb, and this embarrassed me beyond belief (add to this the fact that I was the new girl that year). I distinctly remember debating whether or not I should quit, but I loved this sport more than anything. So, for an entire season, I sacrificed my pride for my love of cheering.

All of this is to say... I noticed that Mercedes didn't look the same as her slimmer counterparts. I wondered if that girl (if she weren't just a character) would also have been conscious of the fact that she was not like the others. I questioned if this was a director's decision in order to "cover up the fat girl" because clearly she can't be a cheerleader.

And for the record... I was. From grade school through my senior year. And I was good, too!

April 18, 2010

Greek Salad

As requested, here is the recipe for my grandma's Greek Salad (Thanks, Grams!):

Salad Ingredients:
Mini Penne Pasta
Shrimp
Grape Tomatoes
Zucchini
Calamata Olives
Marinated Artichokes
Feta Cheese
Freshley chopped Parsley

Dressing:
Equal parts extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1-2 tsp. of Dijon mustard
Whisk all items together.

Recipe:
1. Cook your pasta as directed
2. Cut the tomatoes and olives in half
3. Chop the zucchini and artichokes
4. Mix the shrimp and veggies with the pasta
5. Add the Feta cheese
6. Pour the dressing over the pasta while it's still hot so it will absorb. Grandma says to be careful not to drown your dressing, you don't want it to be juicy.
7. Sprinkle chopped parsley over the top and serve

Enjoy!

April 14, 2010

Charity Game

One of the many hats I wear as a teacher in my school is that of the student council advisor. When I signed on for this task, I had no idea what I was in store for. My only memories of student council are from my limited participation in high school when the students do all the planning and execution. I learned very quickly, however, that this is not how the club operates in a middle school (much to my dismay).

Despite the fact that it's a lot of thankless work, there is one activity we do each year that I'm happy to be a part of: the staff charity basketball game. My school, Lincoln, plays our rival junior high (another of the 5 junior highs in our district) in this highly-anticipated competition. It is, without a doubt, the biggest event of the year, attended by easily over 1000 students.

This year, not only did we raise over $6,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but LJHS also took back the title in this tie-breaking game! Way to go, Lancers!

Here's the article from the Naperville Sun.

April 11, 2010

Game Night

Last weekend, I was invited to Elaine and Josh's for game night. We started off the evening with a potluck of grilled chicken (can I get an Amen for barbecue weather?), leftover gyros, my first ever attempt at pita chips, broccoli, asparagus, and spice cake. Everything was seriously delicious; I wish I could eat like that every night.

After dinner, we rocked out to some tunes while the kids played outside. Patty's three year-old twins, Ryan and Matthew, serenaded us with Taylor Swifts "Our Song," which they learned from playing Sing Star. It was honestly the sweetest thing I've seen in a long time. I told Patty she needs to get a video of it, and I'll be sure to post if for you if she does!

And then we moved on to the games. If you spend any time with this group, you'd know that this was not without side-splitting laughter. We had a great time playing Apples to Apples, which is one of my personal favorites, and then I was introduced to a game called What's Yours Like? which proved to be highly entertaining with this group. (Side Note: I attempted to play this game with my students during study hall this week. They tend to give away the answers with their clues, but they still had fun.)

The thing I love about Game Night is that it's a great way to get to know people. I feel like it takes away a lot of pressure when you're around new people if you have a purpose, and it never hurts to laugh together! Other group favorites include Scene It, Scattegories, Catch Phrase, and Family Feud, but I'm always open to new suggestions. What are your favorites?

Easter 2010

I was super excited when my family accepted my suggestion to try something new this year for Easter. I've been wanting to try a themed menu for a long time, but it's hard for my family to break away from the traditional foods we eat at the holidays. This year, though, we agreed upon a Mediterranean theme for Easter and quickly got to work planning and assigning our menu. I was looking forward to this meal for months, and it did not disappoint.

It was somewhat amusing to watch my family navigate this spread. Some were fully ready to dive in while others proceeded with trepidation. Clearly, this was out of their comfort zone, but at the end of the day, everyone had only great things to say!

Here's a sample of our menu:

Freshly cooked Gyros with tons of Tzatziki Sauce (Lamb is the Easter meat, after all)

Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Jerusalem salad, Taboulah salad, stuffed grape leaves and olives

Spinach and Feta Pies (Not sure why this is sideways!)

Couscous

Grandma's Mediterranean Salad (This one too!)
Olive Tapenade

Greek Yogurt with Fresh Fruit
Strawberry Tiramisu

Baklavah

April 7, 2010

Today's Laugh

I received the following text message from my work BFF, Elaine, tonight about a conversation she had with her three year-old daughter today:

"Playing I-Spy. Hannah's clue was, "Something that is black and a little silly." Answer: Corey."

I can't tell you how hard he and I laughed!

Thanks, girl. I needed that one!

Shame On You!

To the parents at Itawamba County School District who had any part (including not speaking against the masses) in excluding this poor girl from her high school prom, you should be ashamed of yourselves. I am appalled that this community would organize an alternative prom and purposely not invite this girl simply because of who she chooses to bring as her date.

Why is it any of your concern who she chooses to dance with????

What kind of message are you sending to your children? When kids do this to each other, we call it bullying. In case you haven't heard, this is a huge problem in our schools, and yet you perpetuate this behavior by creating a "fake prom." Do you need to be reminded that you are supposed to be the responsible adults here???

Are you seriously suggesting that this girl is somehow less valuable or worthy because of who she loves? It's not hurting you or your children. They're not going to "catch" it!

I'm flabbergasted!

April 5, 2010

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY


Even if you don't typically frolic the young adult section in the bookstore, I bet you would be pleasantly surprised at this find. Thirteen Reasons Why is a New York Times Best Selling novel by author Jay Asher that I literally couldn't put down.

The story starts when high school student Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box on the porch with his name in it. Inside, he finds thirteen numbered cassette tapes with recordings by Hannah Baker, a girl from school who recently committed suicide.

Hannah goes on to explain that each tape explains one of the reasons she decided to end her own life. Clay also learns that Hannah has intended for everyone involved to listen to the tapes, but he finds this baffling because he can't understand how he possibly could have contributed to the demise of his high school crush. He has no choice but to listen to her tapes to find out where he fits in.

I won't say anything more about the plot because I don't want to spoil your reading, but I highly recommend this book. It's advertised as a suspense novel, and I guess I can understand that because it is definitely suspenseful from Clay's perspective as he tries desperately to figure out what he did, but it's certainly not suspenseful in the action/horror way.

I found this story to be a great reminder of how our words and actions (or even lack thereof) can really impact others.

Happy Reading!

Parental Warning: There is one scene in the story that contains some explicit sexual behavior and drinking at a party. Although I understand the intentions of the scene, I thought I'd do the responsible thing and let you know that it's there so you can use your discretion.

April 1, 2010

Say You're Sorry!

I am not ashamed to admit that I enjoy watching reality television. My only justification for such shows is that they are completely mindless and allow me multi-task without worry about missing major plot elements, but if I'm honest, I really just enjoy them.

In tonight's episode of The Real Housewives of New York City, we were again stuck on the merry-go-round that is the never-ending argument between Jill Zarin and Bethenny Frankel. The former BFFs have not been able to agree on why their relationship has gone so sour since the ending of last season, yet it manages to be the topic of conversation each week.

In my opinion, the entire fight could have been over ages ago if Bethenny would've gotten her head out of her you-know-what and apologized for her insensitivity. Instead of simply saying, "Jill, I really regret not being there for you. I'm sorry that I was so caught up in my own career and new relationship to not even realize how much this was hurting you. It was never my intention to cause you to feel this way, and I hope we can restore our friendship," she had the audacity to attack Jill and basically accuse her for lying about the seriousness of her husband's cancer.

I understand it's not always easy to admit when we're wrong, but sometimes it's worth swallowing your pride in order to salvage relationships!

My Staycation

I've spent the past three days lounging on my deck, soaking up the unusually warm weather and reading from the pile of YA novels I've been meaning to get to.

When I finally tore myself away from the backyard yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see the glow on my sun-kissed cheeks. I can't recall the last March that was this beautiful in Chicago. Who needs Florida when I've got this?!

And... the best part about this spring break is that I can take advantage of the back that the bf is still currently unemployed by enjoying leisurely lunches and random, lengthy conversations in the middle of the day. There are definitely some perks to this crappy economy. :-)

I'll be back later to give you some reviews on the books I've been reading.

But for now.. back to perfection!

Leaving a Legacy Behind


Even days after the announcement, my heart is still sad to know that Eva passed away last weekend.


As I said before, I've found Eva's story to be truly inspirational. Her story has reminded me, many times, that there are bigger concerns in life than whatever petty thing I'm worrying about in the moment.


Though her lungs could not fill with oxygen, her heart was overflowing with love. Until the very end, that's what kept her going. She fully embraced her ability to give and receive love, which speaks tremendously about her spirit - a spirit that will remain with so many.


She said in one of her last interviews that her goal was to create a legacy to leave behind. Well done, Eva! I think it's safe to say your mission is accomplished.