Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kids Crafts for the Holidays.

Besides football and their normal shenanigans, the kids did a lot of crafting on Thursday. They made these adorable stress balls.

They took little balloons and used a small funnel to fill the balloon with flour. After they got a good amount of flour in the balloon, they tied off the top and knotted string around the top of the balloon. Then they added faces with permanent marker. These stress balls had personality! Each little guy was a little different.

I remember making these before in my past as a hard core crafter. But never with the cute faces and hair. I was impressed, and yet concerned. I think I need to talk to the teachers of my step-siblings and cousins. If they already need stress relief, they are getting too much homework.

However, I could have used a stress ball when my cousin Molly beat me at Scrabble. Yep, she's a fourth grader. In my defense, I got stuck with a "Q" and was in the game until the last round. I was kind of a sore loser because I didn't get to use all the scrabble two-letter words I normal score with in a game.

Her cuteness makes up for my defeat. Isn't she precious? I remember when she was born. And the first Christmas she walked. And I think she looks just like her daddy, my daddy's brother. She sticks it out with my four brothers and her brother and is a tough cookie. I heart Molly Faye.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Inside and Outside Views.

My aunt and uncle lived on the farm for most of my life. But now they have a custom built home in Imperial that overlooks farmland and the golf course. My uncle is in heaven.

The house was designed to fit their lifestyle, and we fell into it pretty easily on Thanksgiving. The first floor is big and open with a kitchen floating gently into the living room. This came in handy on Thanksgiving when the turkey took over six hours to finish. We could rest comfortably in the living room watching football, snacking and checking the turkey.

Towards the end of the night, my aunt, uncle, Dad and Tracy tested the temperature about ever twenty minutes. That bird took his sweet time, and it was so worth it. It was maybe the best turkey I have ever had. No exaggeration, I promise.

Eventually the bird was done. We gathered in the kitchen and said grace with my grandma, four step-siblings, one brother, one sister, my dad, step-mom, aunt and uncle.

With a sunset like this, it is hard to not be incredibly thankful.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday in Imperial.

In Imperial, Nebraska on Black Friday there isn't a lot of special shopping. Instead, we watch the "Black Shirts" of Nebraska play Colorado.

Seriously. That's what people do here on Black Friday. And it's serious stuff.

My grandma didn't want me to post this picture because she is afraid that no one will ever want to visit Imperial.

I disagree. People like to have their photos taken in the middle of main street. You most certainly cannot do this in southern Johnson County or Fairfax County.

And it is beautiful and flat. Lauren and I ran yesterday and today, and there is no change in the elevation. If you get lost (hey, it happens to us city kids), then you find the grain elevator or the Imperial water tower and get unlost.

I spent a lot of days as a little girl walking down this same main street to the stores with Lauren. We felt amazingly independent and like pretty big deals. There were exactly four stores we would go to downtown. The fabric store, the drug store, the gas station, and the dollar store. Sometimes if we got really adventurous we would go to the library. All by ourselves.

It's nice here on main street. Relaxing and full of reminders about the lessons we learned about independence as little girls walking down main street. The same lessons that take us all over the world on grown-up adventures.

Thanks main street.

S is for Spencer.

My little brother Spencer turned four earlier this month. And he knows what he likes.

For example, right now he is a jersey fanatic. He likes to wear them every day. Thankfully his brother Blake is about the same size so Spencer thinks that they should share jerseys. This doubles the different number of teams that Spence can wear on any given day. Widens the rotation, if you will. And Spencer will.

Blake came home from school one day to find Spencer in his "Raisins" (Baltimore Ravens) jersey. Indignantly he told Spencer to take it off.

"Nope," Spencer told him matter-of-fact. "It's mine. See? It says S right here."

He was pointing to the bottom of his jersey.

Size small. Whatever. Spencer was darn sure that "S" was for Spencer. And off he went, shaking his little head that his poor brother Blake could be so clueless.

Thanksgiving Day Spence was Tom Brady (another of Blake's jerseys). He wanted to be Brady the day before but some cunning older brother talked him out of it by persuading him that Tom Brady stinks. Today he felt differently, and if you merely mentioned that Tom Brady stinks you were likely to provoke tears.

Because Spencer knows what he likes. And on Thanksgiving he liked Tom Brady.

It's clear in this picture how he felt about taking a photo with Lauren. Clearly not on his to-do list at the moment.

Like I said, Spencer knows what he likes. Photography might not be on that list.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

To Grandmother's House We Go.

Living in Virginia makes getting to grandma's house a lot more challenging. Especially because my final destination was in rural western Nebraska.


And it was no easy task getting here. Two trains (metro), two cars, and two airplanes. I was really blessed to have zero delays and smooth travels.

It's helpful when your dad is the pilot on the last leg of your trip.


No complaints here. In fact, if you are going to spend 9 hours getting somewhere, it's nice to end up a place where the people welcome you with hugs.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cranberries.

Remember when earlier this fall there was a pumpkin shortage? Yep, my friends Tara and Rachel both documented the national crisis on their blogs. People were upset about the effect it was having on their fall baking.

Don't get me wrong. I like pumpkin. I will try pretty much anything that someone puts in an oven that contains pumpkin. Rachel's chocolate chip muffins with pumpkin rank up there on some of my favorite baked goods of all time. I've got two cans of the stuff waiting at home for a day where I want to make pumpkin snickerdoodles.

But after losing to TWO pumpkin dishes in the bake-off, I'm a little over pumpkin. Besides, I have my own favorite fall food: cranberries.








Impulsively, I started grabbing bags of them last week at the grocery store. I have a few standby favorites recipes for the bright ready berries, and a stack of about six new different things I would like to try. I'm out-of-town for T-giving so I made some cranberry sauce just because Sunday evening. And it made my house smell like heaven. Think sweet berries, cinnamon, orange. I simmered it a little extra long to encourage the smell to linger around the kitchen.

Once it was made I started exploring other uses for it that are unconventional. Turns out homemade cranberry sauce is good with oatmeal, graham crackers and yogurt too.

Cranberry will probably never have the following of pumpkin. I tried to share some of the sauce with some buddies at school, and they didn't really want any. They do not feel the same way about pumpkin. Like most people I know, they could eat pumpkin morning, noon and night. Whatever. More cranberries for me and my deep freeze.

Basic Cranberry Sauce
(modified from Cooking Light)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon (heaping) of cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Long Way from Harmony Middle.

I have two best friends from high school and Kansas that are an essential part of my well-being here in Virginia. Jennie, Andrea and I all met at Harmony Middle. After graduating from high school, Andrea moved to New York for college and Jennie went west to California. A few years and a couple moves later, we live in three of the biggest cities in the US. Andy is rocking it out in Brooklyn, working in Manhattan. Jen lives in Chicago near Wrigley Field and fights traffic to a job really helping kids and families.

Since my move to northern Virginia, I need these two even more than I did in KC. Don't get me wrong, I still talk with my Kansas friends on a more than regular basis. Did you know that I'm a blackberry junkie? I'm pretty much always a phone call, text or email away even back east.

But the connection I share with my middle and high-school besties is different. They have a pretty good idea about what it takes to strike out on your own in a new big city. Jennie and I talk on gchat, over text or phone, almost every day. Andrea is fearless (read: tattoos) and my go-to expert on going out in the city. We usually plan outfits together (over the phone) and update each other throughout the evening through text messages.

Yesterday Andrea and I planned out an outfit for an 80s dance party that I was going to with Emily and Ryan. It turned out that there weren't a lot of hard core 80s costumes at the club we went to near U-Street. Thankfully my 80s rocker outfit was really hipster. I could wear it around Williamsburg with Andrea and blend in with the locals. ACDC shirt, gray skinny jeans, and my cowboy boots.


These boots were made for dancing. I was not made to be an 80s rocker. Fail.

True to our style, I've talked to Andrea and Jennie already today. We have come a long ways from Harmony Middle and BVNW. I think the bond is strong because we can laugh about where we came from and our current adventures in the big city. And they have kind hearts and always encouraging words about life and love, and I need that too.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thank Goodness for Fridays.

It was a super bizarre day at school. My students know that Thanksgiving break is close, and they are acting ridiculous. I kind of like it. I gave my advisory the silent treatment (which they deserved), and I think it worked. I learned a Sponge Bob dance move, "Bring it around town!" and danced a little moonwalk during "Bad" for Michael Jackson Friday. Our third period did skits, and I laughed at what they came up with for the topics. I HEART crazy 8th graders.

Rachel didn't feel well after school today, so I took Finley on my run. Did you know that seven-month-olds in running strollers are heavy? My mile times decreased dramatically with Finley in tow. Think pregnant Rachel running. Yikes. I'm weak.

But it was a pretty day, and I had some pretty cute company. So I pressed on for my 2.25 miles!


Unfortunately Rachel didn't get a lot of sleep because of a catastrophic meltdown in our backyard. Copper and Belle can NOT handle the sight of our running shoes and were distraught because they knew I was running. Without them. This was the sight as I left the backyard.


Dummy and Stupid. BFF.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Baby, It's Dark Outside.

According to Rachel, we are so far at the edge of our time zone that the sun sets earlier here and it gets dark super early. She says that within the month when we leave school, it will be completely dark. I find this hard to believe since most days we scoot out around 3:20.

So I looked into it. Turns out that Rachel is right, but only sort of. The sunset time is earlier than Kansas City, but only by nine minutes. Today in Falls Church sunset was 4:52 (gee, thanks daylight savings time) and sunset was 5:01 in Kansas City.

She is right that it feels significantly darker here. The roads totally change after dark, and places I thought I knew how to find have scurried into the shadows. By the time we did our after-school club and drove home today it was almost completely dark. After a quick run to CVS and picking up sushi, it could have been midnight. Pretty sure it was just shy of six o'clock.

Thankfully at nighttime, when it is completely dark outside, we have this little guy inside.


(yeah, that's right. I finally outsmarted my blog and have larger size photos. Take that blogger.)

Finley won't cuddle with you for long. He likes to climb all over you and try to pull himself out to escape. If you tickle him, he will giggle his sweet little laugh. We cuddled on the couch for a bit today. He's just shy of seven months and will make winter brighter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Turkey Trot Tradition.

This year marked the twentieth anniversary of the Turkey Trot at our middle school. It was the same day that I found out that I lost the bake off and didn't win a contest on Pioneer Woman that I was just SURE I would win, and I was afraid that I would be just crushed if I lost the Turkey Trot. A trifecta of losses.


Read: I was afraid people would laugh at me when they saw me run. Even though I run around the neighborhood, I wasn't ready to let my coworkers see me running.

Another great way to avoid running is by holding a baby.


I pretty much need no excuse to hold this baby. He is the best.


The shirts for the "Turkey Trot" were neon yellow. If I added some skinny jeans and a pink neon headband, maybe even a fanny pack from American Apparel, I could totally fit in with Andrea's hipster friends in Williamsburg.

Yeah, they wear neon in Brooklyn.

Also newsworthy, Finley likes to grab things.


Like my camera.


He can't have it. But he already got my heart, so we'll call this one a draw.

Bake Off.

Did you know Rachel and I are very competitive? It's true. Have been since our sophomore year of college when we lived in Room H. I was sure I was destined for the presidency of Alpha Chi and told Rachel that if she thought about running against me I would never live with her in the president's room.

Funny story: I sure didn't want to run for president. I was really busy being a campus climber. Rachel was perfect for the job. And Rach didn't let me live in the presidential suite. That's probably fair. I deserved that.

Our latest competition was a bake off at our middle school. Thirteen entries. And the prize: one week of advisory coverage, a grocery store gift certificate and bragging rights. I wanted to win for all three reasons.


My entry: Texas Sheet Cake. There's a lot of butter in this delightful dish. I will share the recipe at the end of the post. Tracy or Bonnie gave it to me sometime when I was in Indiana. I cut it up into 88! small bites so lots of staff members could try it.


Rachel crafted these bite size raspberry gems. They were beautiful and a true labor of love. We were both surprised that no one else made small cupcakes or little cookies. Lots of bar cookies, variations on brownies, and three different pumpkin recipes.


My favorite entry was made by one of our great vice principals, who called it "Duncan Hines Surprise." According to Chuck, he baked it last night straight out of the box and this morning frosted it himself. There was no knife to cut it so for a long time it just SAT on the buffet. You can only keep teachers away from a chocolate cake for so long. Then people started going at it with a spoon.


Here's the recipe. It didn't win. It didn't even tie for second (neither did Rachel's). I think the whole thing was rigged, and I didn't bribe enough voters.

You should probably only make this when you are going to have a lot of people around to eat it. Think brownies times two.

Texas Sheet Cake from Bonnie and Tracy
(This is the chocolate version. I also make a yummy almond flavored white Texas sheet cake that I got from my aunt Lynn).

Ingredients
  • 3 sticks of butter (I know - I apologize!)
  • 8 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 16 oz. powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
In 2 quart saucepan, melt two sticks of butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa, 1 cup of water. Boil, remove from heat.

Add 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon soda, 2 eggs, 2 cups sugar, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 cup buttermilk. Beat with mixer. Pour batter into a greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

While cake is baking, melt the last stick of butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa, and 2 tablespoons of milk. Boil, remove from heat.

Add 1 box powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat well, add milk if necessary to make it smooth and spreadable.

Ice cake shortly after it comes out of the oven. And eat with a large glass of skim milk.

Monday, November 16, 2009

That's Not Very Neighborly.

Sometimes Belle has to wear a bark collar. Just for a little bit at night time after Finley has gone to sleep so that she won't bark at squirrels or Sol coming home. We're not sure that Finley waking up is Belle's fault - we're just trying to be helpful in the transition to quiet, peaceful bedtime.


Yesterday she wasn't wearing the bark collar. She barked enough to get me up and moving, and it's a good things she did. I saw Copper tearing down the street without abandon. This is one of Copper's favorite tricks. It never fails - whenever someone new is around, Copper manages to escape. Rachel's poor cousin Nick didn't close the gate all the way, and Copper made his dash for freedom. Rach & Sol were at church, so I hurried to help.

I threw on some clothes, put a leash on Belle, and grabbed my car keys. It is impossible to catch up with Copper on foot. I clocked him at about 15 mph as we drove down Holmes Run. Belle was anxious to get out and run too and actually was not very helpful as I tried to lure Copper back to my car.

Epic. Fail.

Chased Copper all the way down to the neighborhood park where I had to lose my wheels. I hurried after Copper into the park, hopeful that he would tire soon. I was hopeful when I saw two neighbors out with their dauschands down the way. Copper loves to run up to dogs and sometimes their owners help us catch him.

Not this time. As I run by and their dogs bark wildly, one man yells at me, "There is a REASON there is a LEASH LAW!"

Seriously. You live two doors down for us and you have never seen Copper escape? You think I am running through the park like a crazy person in my slippers because I want to break the leash law?

I shout back as I run by, "I'm trying to catch him. I have been since Sycamore!"

And ever helpful, the man retorts, "You better catch him soon."

He was not very neighborly about the whole thing. Eventually a nice owner of a black lab lured Copper close enough, and I took the two dogs home. We really feel a lot of remorse when Copper gets away. It's scary because we don't know what the dogs would do if they got far away up to Gallows Road or the beltway. And only Belle comes home. Copper likes to wander.

I'm dreading running into the man when I take my dog out in the morning. He was pretty rude about the whole incident. Or I might let Belle poop in their yard when they're not home and then I will feel like the score is evened up a bit.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Tale of Two Saturday Nights.

It was the best of times...never the worst of times.

Saturday night in Manhattan one week ago with lots of faces I knew.


Last night only one face I knew and a whole bunch of faces I didn't know in DC. I like both ways of exploring the nightlife. Knowing only a couple of people was fun because it allowed me to focus on the people I was with and good conversations. (Blurry because I don't know them well enough to make them pose over and over again for my blog.)


In Manhattan, we have certain things we like to drink. Belfast bombers are a staple. And so are taking photos for my mom before we chug drink the delightful drink.


In DC, sometimes we trade in the traditional for the new and trendy. Churchkey has over 500 different beers and great delicious bar food to go with it. Think Eggplant panini, flatbread pizza, and shrimp corn dogs. I was there with a beer pro and had three different tasty brews. I'm not a great beer drinker, but I loved everything I tried last night.


Inevitably during a night on the town, someone will insist on eating gross greasy food. Usually boys are the ones clamoring for food. In Manhattan all I wanted was one donut. Instead we ended up with a pool table full of Gumby's, including pokey sticks and dessert pizza. I insisted on dessert pizza because of my perpetual sweet tooth.


Predictable to their nature, the boys last night insisted on food. We walked from Churckey to Ben's Chili Bowl, one of my favorite places in all of DC.


I was pretty sure that I would regret chili cheeseburger and halfsmokes so I stuck to diet coke. I already had a chocolate cupcake, a homemade hostess cupcake, at Churchkey so I was set.

I debate in my head all the time what will happen when I am done at GMU. I am so happy here, but I was incredibly homesick when I was in Manhattan with my friends and family. Last week Rachel told me to quit. As she pointed out, I have only been here for four months, and I need to calm down about what happens in 2011. I think she is right. I don't need to be so worried about what happens next and where I belong. Take these two Saturday nights. Both had their merits, their laughs and a few good stories. Both of these places have a strong pull for me. I feel loved at home, and I feel independent here. I miss the kids at NW terribly but love the staff at Key already.

Do you know what comes next in Dicken's famous first line? It's fairly appropriate I think for a tale of two Saturday nights. "It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..."

I like it. For now my life will continue to be a blend of the two cities that pull at my heart. And I'm going to learn to like that too so I don't miss any fun.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn.

After tailgating, dinner at the Little Apple Brewery, and Sonic (of course!), we all met back at the hotel. We were supposed to be in our individual rooms resting up for a night out in Aggieville.

Instead everyone ended up in the room I shared with Nanette. Diana, Nan, Erica, Jon, Dereck, Mark, Lauren, another Mark, Mom, Kenneth and me. There were certainly not enough chairs for all these people so they piled on the bed, leaned against the walls and sat on the floor.


I was struck by the way everyone stuck together. Most of us had been together since early in the morning when we left for game day. We had plenty of time to talk to each other, share stories and laugh. But there was still more that we wanted to discuss.


That's what I like about my Kansas people. We never run out of things to talk about when we are together. If we are in cabins in New Mexico, on the Gulf Coast, or driving across the country, we have a lot to talk about. We try to solve the problems of the world on a regular basis. In fact, in these photos Kenneth is reading an article I gave him about Reaganomics. Across the room Mom, Dereck, and Jon are trying to determine what will happen in the Big 12 North if Nebraska beats Oklahoma.


Eventually we picked ourselves up and headed to the Ville where we continued to discuss life, love and politics. But that's another story...

And no, my paper is still not done.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tailgating (and an Anticipated Conversation).

I know that by posting this blog post I am provoking the following conversation.

Mom: Is your paper done?
Victoria: No, but...
Mom: Then why are you blogging? NO blogging until your paper is done!
Victoria: But...
Mom: And you need to go to bed. It's late.

Also, there's a chance this conversation could happen on video chat with my mom adding to it's seriousness. But I'm willing to risk it to show you game day faces at the tailgate.

We have tailgated at my grandparents' parking spot for as long as I remember. We have had birthday parties, family reunions and hugs there at many home games. My grandpa's purple cowboy hat marks the spot even if the car changes. There have been games where people were missing. And those were sad games. But not last Saturday. Last weekend the tailgate felt very complete.

First, the family minus Bethany. We missed her dearly. I'm sure especially Sasha because she probably would have worn red & blue. You can see in my grandpa and uncle where I get some more of my height.


My sister and cousin have boyfriends that we like so we keep them around for photos too. I don't have a boyfriend which is convenient because then I could take this photo.


My uncle Keith likes Mark (Lauren's boyfriend) because he is a "real American." Here are three more "real Americans" that came by the tailgate. They are happy because it is after the win and because they love America.


Girls also really like football in Kansas. Sarah, Lindsay, Tara and Erica all came up from KC. Yep, we mostly paid attention to the game. I had a lot of stories to tell in between plays though and chattered away to them most of the time.


Out of camera range: the Mitchells, Sherri Sue, Susie Zimmerman, and the Stretchers.

It was so nice to be able to stay put at one tailgate and see so many people in purple (or those other colors). Someone once asked me how we can pack up and drive to Manhattan for so many long days in the fall. It's easy when it's not just about a football game, but also about your family and your friends.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Game Day and Game Faces.

I went home to Kansas and took my A game. I took a lot of pictures and got a lot of hugs and felt loved. There are a lot of photos and stories I want to share, and I think it will take me the better part of this week because I have a big grad school paper due this week too.

Here is a preview. I love these people.


I think my grandma said it well. "Kansas and its bright blue weather were in full force."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let's Go to the Mall.

I think the mall is a cool place to hang out, just like my friend Robin Sparkles. She was a teenage popstar in Canada.



My friend Abbey hates the mall, mostly because she doesn't understand it. Sometimes I try to teach her about the mall so that she won't get so overwhelmed and lost, but alas the mall isn't for everyone. It is for me.

This week I went to the mall twice. And not just any mall but Tyson's Corner. I love this mall for it's multi storied goodness, excessive food stands including CakeLove, DairyQueen, and a Cinnabon that gives samples, and easy shape perfect for my strolls.

It is a really good thing I went twice. A lot of things changed since Monday. More Christmas decorations (including music in Macy's), new patterns at Vera Bradley (preview only), and I discovered the Apple store is closed for restructuring. I was most puzzled by the work being done in the Apple store. My experience visiting my sister's boyfriend on the Plaza is that the store is pretty much always the same and that sometimes he works really weird hours putting up new decorations.

So I'm excited for November 21st when they open the Apple store again. I'm hoping it is something awesome like the Santa and the Elf from last year.


Oh, you don't remember the Santa and the Elf from last year? Oh, I do. One night Mark called and said they needed to be removed from his Apple and given to charity or beaten with golf clubs until destroyed. My friend Sheldon took the hardtop off his Jeep and helped take the Elf and Santa around town and then to my apartment, where they were hoisted by a pulley system onto my balcony. The Elf eventually made it to his new home in the Loft at Village Church. The Santa, well, he ended up head first into the dumpster of my apartment. He was too big for conventional doorways.

Please Apple. Make it THAT good. Until then, remember what Robin Sparkles says. "Let's Go to the Mall, TODAY!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You Said How Many GALLONS?

To introduce "Chew on This" to our students today, we gave them a little true/false quiz. It was cute because they stood back-to-back with a partner and then turned around to show their partner true/false (thumbs up/thumbs down). After they predicted, we revealed the answers.

Here was the quiz. Take it. You might be surprised.
  1. In 2006, Americans spent about $42 billion on fast food.
  2. Today almost 1/2 of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.
  3. Today the typical American eats 30 pounds of frozen French fries.
  4. The most popular menu item at BK is the Whopper.
  5. The average salary of an Assistant Manager of a fast food restaurant is $25,000 a year
  6. American children watch more than 10,000 TV commercials a year.
  7. Americans eat 13 billion hamburgers every year.
  8. Today the average American drinks fifty-two gallons of soda year.
Number 8 is the one that shocked me the most. It is true, by the way, and that adds up to about 557 twelve-ounce cans a year. After I shared that number with my class, I got to thinking about it. 557 twelve-ounce cans is not even TWO diet cokes a day. Uh-oh.


I heart diet coke. Here it is on the beach in Alabama - I chose to drink diet coke over any of the alcoholic options provided. Everywhere we went in Alabama we could drink coke products because it was the south. No one calls it soda or pop. Just coke. That's very happy. Out of curiosity, I asked a lady at dinner where I could get a pepsi. She thought hard about it and then suggested Arby's. Maybe I could live in the south after all.

I will not be revealing how many gallons of diet coke I drink in a year, month or week. I think my grandma and mother will sleep better without the truth. (But it is diet soda). But I'll tell you the answers to the quiz. You may grade your own paper. I will be able to tell if you erase your answers.
  1. False. $142 billion.
  2. False. 2/3 of adults are overweight or obese.
  3. True. About 90% come from fast food restaurants.
  4. False. It's actually the Enormous Omelet breakfast sandwich - 740 cal, 46 grams of fat.
  5. True. That's about $12,00 less than the avg. full time worker.
  6. False. More than 40,000 commercials - 20,000 about junk food.
  7. True. That would circle the earth more than 32 times.
  8. True. But we've already covered that.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Fast Food.

Today at the gym, I learned about the passing of Sonic founder Mr. Troy N. Smith, Sr. He started his first little "America's Drive In" back in 1953. I love Sonic, and I will go out of my way for a diet cherry coke with lots of real cherries. Oh yes. Sonic has delicious drink specials. Route 44's only $1.25 before 11 am? CHECK. Happy hour with 1/2 price drinks 2-4 pm every day? TOTALLY THERE.

And then I moved to Virginia. Northern VA seemed to have it all. Except Sonic. None of America's 3600 Sonics were anywhere near me. And I was sad.

So we started going on road trips and I started making detours for Sonic. Rachel and I had it everyday when we went to South Carolina. Forgive the early morning photo; I believe we were getting Route 44 specials.


There were more Sonics in Alabama. I passed a Sonic as I left the airport and drove to meet the girls and screamed in delight! It's a good thing I really wanted to see them or else I would have stopped. (Don't worry, we went later on during the weekend.)

Sonic was totally on my list of things I want to do in Kansas this coming weekend. And then, Chew on This happened.


For our next unit in English, we are teaching about the fast food industry. This is the juvenile nonfiction version of the best seller, "Fast Food Nation." And it is making me feel REALLY bad about fast food. Dangit.

I might cut back. Less trips to Chick-Fil-A probably wouldn't hurt. But not this weekend. No, I will raise my Sonic cup and toast the man behind the drive-in. Here's to you, Mr. Troy N. Smith. Thanks for the extra cherries.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Unexcused Absence.

Several things have kept me quiet for the last couple of days. Number one was a very disturbing flu bug that limited movement to laying in bed. Thankfully, today is a teacher "work from home day" and tomorrow is teacher work day at school without students, so I don't have to teach until Wednesday. Gives me a couple extra days to beat this flu bug.

The second reason for my absence is my new best friend. Rachel, seen below with Curious Finley, introduced us.


My new best friend is Veronica Mars. She's a fictional TV character, but I think she is the coolest imaginary friend I've got. VeVe (as Sol calls her) is a crime fighting teenage detective. It's like Bones meets Law & Order meets Gilmore Girls meets FANTASTIC. No longer on the air, there were three seasons of it, and I just flew through season one. The second season is sitting on my desk, staring at me, daring me to put it in and find out who was at the door. This is good TV.

And to think, Rachel threatened our friendship to make me watch. Her exact words were, "If you don't watch it NOW, I'm not speaking to you ever again. I'm sorry it took me this long to tell you about it."


What Rachel doesn't know is that she's been replaced. I'm putting disc one of season two in right now. I'm going to hang out with my new bestie Veronica again. All this writing about it made me want to watch some more. Excuse me.