Monday, February 28, 2011

I Want to Be a Kansas City Blogger.

It's time, friends.

Time for me to tell you the truth, and make this whole thing blog-facebook-internet public.

I'm headed home to Kansas City. I think it was Dorothy (maybe?) who said, "There's no place like home." And boy oh boy, is it true about Kansas.

This wasn't an easy decision to make, and it is something I've been thinking about since last fall. There were some really long days where I was pretty homesick. But for every homesick day there have been weeks of fun adventures here in Virginia. I really love my job and have great friends here from school and grad school.

But it's not home. Kansas is and will be again in late July.

I have lots to write about with the move home - how God has been extraordinarily good in this decision, what I want to do when I get to Kansas City, what I'll miss about the DC area, and so much more.

I'll see you in Kansas City in July.

P.S. I have no idea what to do with the name of my blog.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Bar in Boston.

When you're single, the advice you get the most often is, "You never know when or where you're going to meet someone!" This is sort of frightening advice when you think of the day-to-day implications. Should I look cute all the time? Do I smile enough? Why am I so tall? Is my height overwhelming when I'm in the grocery store or pumping iron at the gym or hanging out at church? When did my hair get dark brown?

I realize their advice is very true. When I think about my friends and where they met their husbands, most of their stories are really random. Rachel met Sol at Dairy Queen when he was wearing two different shoes. Kate met Adam in Latin class in high school. Jill met Scott in the DU house at Penn State on a Wednesday night. They didn't go any of those places looking for their husband. Then BAM.

And I don't really think those thoughts above all the time. In fact, I'm really happy just doing my life. I'm blessed with extraordinary friends, a job I love, and plenty of other fun happenings and trips. Life is really good.

But when we went to the bar in Boston on Saturday night, this was the advice again from my dear friends. So they made me walk around the bar twice and told me we couldn't leave until I talked to a boy. Because "you never know where you'll meet someone."

It seemed rather pointless to me. I was probably not going to meet someone at the bar we went to because it was too cold to walk outside. Finally to appease them, I tapped the tall dude with the curly hair on the shoulder next to me.

He was British.

I asked him to take our picture. He took six (see above), and they were all hilarious. After our mini photo shoot, we started talking to the Brit who lived in Vancouver for six years and his short friend from Northwestern. The British/Canadian did not like Justin Bieber and worked at MIT in development. He referenced Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" (my favorite) like it was perfectly normal in conversation. His parents were once journalists with the ambassador to Pakistan or something equally impressive.

Then we asked them how the guys knew each other. Both their girlfriends were first year law students at Harvard. Game over.

So let's cross random bar in Boston off the list of places I'm going to meet my husband. But it was a really fun Saturday night. We had a blast. It's fun to talk to the "locals" and drink Sam Adams.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Supper Club at Rustico.

Let me take a break from telling you about all the food we ate in Boston to tell you about the food we ate in Virginia last night. It was the second gathering of our supper club, and we met at Rustico in Ballston. Their specialty is wood fired pizza and beer, just perfect for a weeknight gathering of the Supper Club.

We had to wait a little while for a table so we chose from their huge beer list in the bar. Over forty different beers on tap, plus hundreds of bottles. I had a stout that was a little like a Guinness and with my dinner a sweet little Hef called a "Tall Blonde." Some of the other girls had a beer called "Love." It was a very long day of school, so we were thankful for the cold, tasty beer. Yes, sometimes a beer makes the job easier. Sometimes 8th graders are trying.

Jill D. was the only one of us who had been before, and she would not stop talking about the grilled Caesar salad. She's sort of a connoisseur of salads. Would you read a blog about the salads she eats? I think it would be kind of fun. She's not a salad snob, just a salad enthusiast.

Anyways, she got a grilled salad. It was fun to try but sort of weird too!

Everyone but Ellie ordered a pizza - she had a fancy salad that was so pretty. When the huge hot pizzas were delivered, we tried the different varieties. Jill R. and I were pretty sure we made the best choice - spicy shrimp, cherry peppers, roasted garlic and pesto. I bet some of the other supper club members would say that they made the best choice. Which is fine - more leftovers of what I LOVED. Shrimp on a pizza is a very good idea.

The service was pretty great, and the server had a huge smile. And maybe huge arm muscles. Alright, he was cute. The atmosphere was sort of noisy, but that's a good fit for supper club because we're chatty as well. We might need a Supper Club scorecard for service, menu selection, food, atmosphere. That would be a great addition to our March club meeting!

Club members in attendance last night: Aimee, Ellie, Jill R., Jill D., Jillian, Kate. We missed you Lauren and Rachel! Anyone have Northern Virginia suggestions for our next club meeting?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mr. Bartley's Gourmet Burgers.

Our first stop Saturday afternoon was Mr. Bartley's Gourmet Burgers in Harvard Square. I hadn't been before on my previous trips to Boston, but Rachel was pretty sure I'd love it. She was right. Here are the reasons why I loved it...
  • You have to wait in line.
  • It's been featured on Guy Fieri's show on the Food Network.
  • The burgers are named after politicians and celebrities.
  • Apparently it was in "The Social Network." We're considering watching it again to confirm.
  • It is decorated inside with an over-the-top collection of stuff.
  • The burgers were really really good. Like really really.

Our trip to Boston was a reminder that the season is most definitely still winter. When you arrive at Bartley's, you get in line with all the other suckers. Soon Mr. Bartley comes along and gives you a menu. He'll put the burger side face up in your hands and say, "This is what we're famous for," and then move on down the line passing out menus and taking orders.

You have a few minutes to read through all the descriptions of the burgers before he comes back to take your order. This next step is sort of a mystery: they keep all of the burger orders together, in order, until you get to the front and inside the door. Then Mrs. Bartley directs you to a table.

The servers were genuinely nice guys and gals, and they brought us our drinks almost as soon as we sat down. Our burgers weren't far behind the drinks. It was bustling at lunch time, but there wasn't a huge hurry. We ate our burgers at a normal speed, savoring each bite.

I didn't get a picture of Emily's burger, the Supreme, but it was a basic burger. Here are the three burgers Rachel, Vicki and I ordered.
  • Vicki ordered "The Drew Faust (Harvard Prez) a turkey burger w/red peppers, feta, tomato, red onion, garlic mayo, and sweet potato fries."
  • I felt like a traitor when I ordered my burger because normally I love all things Peyton Manning. But I proceeded to eat every bite of "The Tom Brady (ladies, make a pass at this) w/cheddar, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, red onions and fries." Tom was so good to me.
  • Rachel had "The Tea Party (throw the bums out) teriyaki burger w/grilled pineapple and sweet potato fries." I'm still not sure why it's called that. Go read the other burger names here - many of them are worth a chuckle!

We all agreed it was worth the forty minute wait for our burgers. I thought the potato fries were better than the sweet potato fries. In some ways they reminded us of our beloved So Long Saloon from college but with all the character only a restaurant in Harvard Square can provide.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Boston with the Best Gals.

So much to say about our great trip to Boston, but this short conversation with my mom sums it up pretty well. I told her that I really had the best time on our trip to Boston. And she said, "Well, I'm not surprised. You were there with some of the nicest women." She was right. It was bound to be a great trip full of shopping, eating, sightseeing and more food. Here we are in Harvard Square in Cambridge. More to come...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Boston in 2007.

I found a classic photo from my other trip to Boston in June 2007. We're in a bar right outside of Fenway Park, getting ready to see the Red Sox play (and win!)

Seriously, how could you NOT want to go to Boston with us? We look like so much fun, right? I think it is hilarious how much we grew up between the pictures here in March 2006 and June 2007. Boston, get ready. We're on our way!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Field Trip.

Spent the day at Finance Park with 111 spunky 8th graders. Rachel and I were commenting that we like our students so much more when they're not in our classroom. They're so cute! And fun! And they wave hello to you all the time when you go by their field trip groups!

Don't get me wrong, I love my students, and I LOVE what we do in our classroom. But sometimes its nice to take a step back during a field trip and appreciate the awesomeness of 13- and 14-year-olds. They're silly.

Finance Park is a fantastic facility designed to teach our kids about personal finance. Everything from buying a car to paying the mortgage and even choosing insurance, vacation and savings. They work really hard to figure out how to balance their budgets with their given salaries.

Each student was given a personal information card that told them their age, marital status and if they had children. As one of my students remarked, "My kids are really making me broke!" I am sure that is how their parents feel too!

They totally learned a ton and worked super hard. My favorite quote of the day: "I thought you got toilet paper from the UTILITIES company! I didn't know you had to buy it yourself!"

It was also a good day to be with my teacher friends. Thanks Rachel for this artsy photo of the great women I work with every day. We had fun with our eighth graders - a welcome break from yelling "get to class!" and "do you have a pencil?" and "PULL YOUR PANTS UP!"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Before Boston...

Back in Boston in 2006. Rachel and Sol had been married for less than a year, and I was visiting on my first teacher spring break. I loved everything about that trip to Boston - the food, my friends, the history, and then again, the FOOD.

However, I think our hairdresser, Dominique, might die if she saw this photo. I was perpetually "growing my hair out," and Rachel let someone talk her into bangs. Dominique will be much happier with all the photos we will take this weekend - we look a little more grown up! I guess we are. We both live in Virginia, Rach & Sol have been married 5.5 years and have 1.75 children. I have a dog and a job and an almost masters.

Ah! We're so young! But we're also really happy because we're eating Giacomo's. I can't believe the trip is almost here. Bring on the chowder! The lines for food! Cannolis! Em and Vicki are going with us to see Boston for the first time. We're excited to share the city with them, just like Rach did for me back in 2006 and 2007, eating our way through the best Boston has to offer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet Treat Wrap-Up.

Surprisingly, the delivery of all of those roses and sweets yesterday was a total success. No teachers complained, the kids didn't try to drink their Crush soda in class and the hallways weren't covered with rose petals. It was super fun, and we were proud of how it turned out!

Valentine's Day is perfect for sweet treats, so obviously I wanted to make something sweet to deliver to my friends at school. The idea for the bags came from Thig & Thistle, and the great bags were from her sweet etsy shop. I bought the glassine bags to slide inside because then none of the goodness of the treats would soak through. I loved that they fit perfectly together.

Instead of using her design, I made my own simple design and fought with my little printer until a dozen were printed and ready to be filled. If I had more time and nicer scallop scissors, I would have cut the tops with pretty scissors. Or maybe that would have been overkill? I can't decide.

No fancy schmancy cookies today - I made the easiest treats to fill the bags: Rice Krispie treats with peanut butter and brownies. They were both extra thin because I split the Rice Krispie treats into two pans and baked the brownies VERY carefully on a jelly roll pan instead of a 9 x 13 for about 18 minutes. I loaded both with Valentine sprinkles from Bake It Pretty and cut them into two different sizes of hearts using Wilton heart cookie cutters on Monday morning. I didn't want all that heart shaped goodness to dry out!

Let's not discuss my internet shopping problem today. I realize it's not normal to buy sprinkles on the internet, so you don't have to bring it up this morning.

I read so many crafty blogs on the internet, including my bloggie friend Nato who is crafty sometimes and funny always. I'm trying to embrace the fact that you don't have to have cute kids to be creative and make cute things. And that it's okay to be want a craft table, even at age 27. Crafting can be tied to baking which is always connected to gifting, my seriously predominant love language.

Can you imagine how fun life will be when I'm done with grad school? Craft on, my friends.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Staging Ground for Valentine's Day.

When you're single on Valentine's Day, it's perfectly normal to buy yourself almost $200 worth of roses. Whatever color you want. They'll make your kitchen smell romantic.


This is staging ground for the Valentine's Day for our middle schoolers. Rach and I've got twelve dozen roses from Costco ready to be delivered tomorrow to very excited and squeally middle teenagers. I feel like I owe everyone of my coworkers an apology for the chaos that we will unleash - 12 dozen roses, 13 dozen cans of "Crush" soda and hundreds of packages of hershey's kisses and conversation hearts.

In our defense, we had NO idea that sales would be this popular. We did all this business at lunch over two days of rapid fire transactions. We will have made about $500 from this quick fundraiser and brighten up our middle school on Valentine's Day (plus my kitchen on Sunday).

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chocolate Ale and Beanie Babies.

Hiiiiii. This was accidentally a quiet week on the blog, and I hope I didn't make you worry. I didn't get sick (again), this week was just crazy busy at school and church. Before I knew it, the week was over. And I used up all my "free time" for blogging when I spent a very long time crafting the post about color in the classroom last Monday night.

Notes from the week that was...
  • My family spent most of Wednesday trying to locate a very popular new beer in Kansas City, the Chocolate Ale. I began to panic on Tuesday night when I realized it had been released, everyone was talking about it, and there weren't very many bottles. Wednesday, Mom started calling liquor stores. Pregnant Rachel really wanted the beer. I wanted the beer (um, hello? Christopher Elbow AND Boulevard? does life get better?). And there was very little we could do to help the situation. Mom was striking out in KC. It was a repeat of the Beanie Baby era when my faithful mother spent hours locating those crazy stuffed creatures. (Also, I made the comparison to Beanie Babies before the KC Star did in Saturday's paper.) We would eventually get really lucky that residents of Lawrence have terrible taste in beer when my sister was able to secure 12 bottles. Rachel is considering giving birth early so we can celebrate with a bottle of beer. I hear it is VERY delicious.
  • Rachel and I sold almost $800 worth of flowers, candy and cans of "Crush" soda to middle schoolers on Thursday/Friday. It was a fundraiser for Student Council, and a good one too. We've got almost everything ready to deliver Monday. I just have to go to (another) store to get the Crush soda. Apparently it's not as popular with everybody else as it is with our students. We also had a school dance where the DJ didn't show with 225 students.
  • I'm serving on the leadership team for my church young adult meeting and participated in a planning meeting earlier this week PLUS our regular meeting Thursday night. It's good work for the good Lord.
  • My sweet mother sent me a gift card to Whole Foods this week. The card is labeled "dough." Love it. And already spent it. Jennie sent me the brightest flowers that cheered me and my kitchen right up.
  • When I was at Whole Foods, I bought four dates. I sliced them open, took out the pit, put the tiniest amount of peanut butter in and I would like some more right now.
  • We started our judicial branch unit, by FAR the most interesting to our kids. They have endless questions and some background knowledge thanks to Judge Judy and "Caso Cerrado" on Telemundo.
  • My principal is moving to Chicago. So that's something that really shook up our school this week.
  • Vicki's Jax met my Belle today, and it was delightful. Next puppy play date: DOG PARK.
Be back soon!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Colorblind in the Classroom.

My favorite classroom picture EVER from Kansas City, KS. Fall 2006.

Saturday morning I sat in a large lecture hall at George Mason while our professors led us in a discussion around issues of race in the classroom. We've had similar conversations before during our program, and I tend to speak my mind. My experiences at K-State with Leadership Studies, in my classroom in KCK, and at my school here in Virginia shaped me. I own my whiteness. I pretty much had to in room 43 in KCK - I was the only white person in the room most of the time.

While our group is a little diverse, we're mostly white teachers working in the suburbs of DC. Northern Virginia has some very diverse pockets though, so our program focuses on being responsive to the changing needs of the classroom. Our conversations can get pretty intense as ideas, stereotypes and philosophies are challenged, pushed and accepted.

The conversation hit a major block when one of my classmates who teaches in a predominately Latino part of Northern Virginia said, "When my students come in the classroom, I don't see them as little Hispanic children. They're just boys and girls."

I understand where she's coming from. It's 2011, and we're all anxious to live in this new "post-racial world." But that's not how this works. As my professor and mentor responded, "Yes, but that takes something away from your student's identify. To many of them, their race is a major part of who they are."

It's also important that we don't pretend we're bias free. We all possess internal stereotypes and expectations. If I'm not conscience of them in my classroom, they could affect how I teach. Having high expectations for ALL of my students is something I have to think about and remain dedicated to ALL the time.

These issues were white, black and brown for the most part in my classroom in Kansas City. Living here my students represent all corners of the world, and it is humbling. I refuse to be colorblind in my classroom and miss the opportunities for my own education and the rich conversations my students can have.

For example, last week I was discussing the events of Egypt with my third period honors class. Asef raised his hand, and I called on him, expecting a question. Instead I got a story. Basically during the Iranian election protests in 2009, he was in Iran with his family. Somehow Asef found himself in the middle of the crowd and when circumstances got out of control, a member of the Iranian police hit him on the head. He lost a tooth and was pretty seriously hurt.

Pretending that I can look at him and not see his race is detrimental to my classroom. Think of the stories I would miss if we didn't incorporate students' individuality. Seeing each student individually, trying to love them (even when they're punks) and celebrating what makes each student unique is a far better way of teaching than pretending to be colorblind.

I mean it. Even when they're punks.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Went to College with Jordy Nelson.

Because I went to college with Jordy Nelson and he plays for the Packers, I cheered for Green Bay last night in the Super Bowl. That's a totally normal reason to choose a team, right?

Wisconsin also has better beer and cheese. Two more reasons to cheer for Green Bay!

Seriously though, it was really neat to see Jordy play and even catch a touchdown. We used to stand in the student section and chant his name while we waited for him to return a kick-off. He was there at the same time as me, and his family still lives right outside Manhattan. I love KS.

I went over to Vicki and Daniel's to watch the game. They had wonderful food, but I brought along some chocolate.

I really wanted a platter that was either shaped like a football or painted like the field. Also, I asked Rachel if she had such a platter. She did not nor did I expect her to. However, I appreciated that she took the question seriously. Since we had neither, I had to create my own creative presentation for the brownies.

I borrowed a tag from a previous design project and cut down a brown paper bag to make it easy to see inside. I used wax paper to keep the goodies from sticking and to try to prevent some of the buttery edges from seeping onto the bag. Mostly successful. I also put a piece of cardboard in the bottom to reinforce the bag. There are two wholes punched in the back of the bag to secure the gold ribbon. I did this with two bags and filled the other with pretzel M & Ms which are always delicious.

The treats were mostly peanut butter with swirls of chocolate in them. They are terrible for you but pretty delicious. I got the recipe right off the Reese peanut butter chips bag.

Vicki and I did not plan our matching outfits. I watched the whole game on this cute antique chair. It made the Super Bowl a classy event.

And finally, this was my favorite commercial. It even beat out the e-trade baby! I loved it because it reminded me of all my sweet little brothers.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dog Park.

Took Belle to the dog park after school on Thursday. Didn't take any pictures, but if you can imagine mud, snow and puddles, then you can picture the dog park. Belle and her new buds romped through the mud for almost an hour until she was a black and brown dog, and my toes were frozen. No one could catch Belle - she's fast - but some of the huskies were too big for her to really wrestle. There was also a pit bull puppy named Bella. Strangely similar to my pup...

I strapped her in the far back of the Pilot so she wouldn't be able to muddy up the whole car. I got her home and gave her a bath. It took FOREVER to get all that mud out of her fur and paws. Thanks Lauren for the "Pretentious Pooch" suds. She was definitely cleaner and snobbier.

She's a special dog. She picked through her food, eating all the high protein pieces first. Obviously she still ate the rest. Once Belle was clean, she took a nap, and I had to clean up her mess. The shower. The floor with her fir. The muddy towels. My muddy jeans and coat. Four hours later, she still slept.

This is kind of a lame post. But I guarantee that the trip to the dog park wast the highlight of Belle's week. If you've never seen her sprint, it's legendary. She's a happy pup at the park.

PS. Happy happy birthday Grandma Mary! Much love from Virginia!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

We, the Pizza.

Ah the week that this was. It should have been a very easy week - two inservice days followed by a short three days of teaching 8th graders and finishing up grades for second quarter. Instead, that flu bug that sent Sol to the hospital (he also had a kidney stone), swept through out house hitting me and then Rachel. It knocked us out flat, and I spent two days in bed sleeping it off and watching reruns on TV. Back to work today, trying to catch up and feeling much better. The one piece of good news with this flu bug was that it was short and sick and back to work in about 48 hours. Phew!

Last Saturday, we piled into the car and headed to Capitol Hill to try We, the Pizza. It's been on my pizza list for awhile, and it's a Top Chef restaurant, owned by Spike M., one of my favorites chefs from Top Chef.

You can order pizza by the slice (how very New York City) or get a whole pie. Don't you love these pans lining the stairway?

Located right on Pennsylvania Avenue in Southwest DC, we decided it was probably a really happening place for weekday lunches. There are two large dining areas above the restaurant. During the week picture Capitol Hill staffers instead of the families and couples we dined with.

Rach and Sol got a whole pie, which in the end was the better way to go. Hot puffy crust, covered with buffalo chicken on one side and "forest shroomin pie" on the other. I loved the buffalo!

We're wearing game day purple and rocking it, don't ya think? My pizza was spinach artichoke. I also had the fresh mozzarella and roasted tomato pie. The spinach artichoke was maybe my fav.

There were leftovers, and I hear they reheated very well in the oven.

I liked We, the Pizza, but I was really disappointed that they didn't have t-shirts. I'm always teaching about the Preamble (We, the People...) and I thought it would be HILARIOUS if I had a shirt that said We, the Pizza. Alas, no such luck. I would take you if you would like some yummy pizza. It's so neat to walk out and look to the left and see the capitol too. It's a great part of DC.