Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cooking with Grandma

I found my favorite recipe today in my little tin box of recipes. I cut this out a long time ago and glued it to a recipe card. I think it is from the San Diego Tribune Food Section. It is very old.

Often I am asked what is my "favorite" recipe. My favorite recipe is Edward Lear's recipe for Gosky Patties.

It goes this way:

"Take a pig three or four years of age, and tie him by the off hind leg to a post. Place five pounds of currants, three of sugar, two pecks of peas, 18 roasted chestnuts, a candle and six bushels of turnips with in his reach; if he eats these, constantly provide him with more.

"Then procure some cream, some slices of Cheshire cheese, four quires of foolscap paper, and a packet of black pins. Work the whole into a paste, and spread it out to dry on a sheet of clean brown water-proof linen.

"When the paste is perfectly dry, but not before, proceed to beat the pig violently with the handle of a large broom. If he squeals, beat him again.

"Visit the paste and beat the pig alternately for some days and ascertain if, at the end of that period, the whole is about to turn into Gosky Patties.

"If it does not then, it never will; and in that case the pig may be let loose, and the whole process may be considered as finished."

Okay, (the food author concludes) that is my favorite recipe.

I admit that it is my favorite, too.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And the Nominees Are....

For most disturbing commercial of the holiday season....the one I just saw with the toddler laughing with his animatronic teddy bear as they "read" together. The female-voice-over says "blah blah blah blah...He's learning to love books with blahtedy-blah-blah products..."



I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home

I read an article on-line today giving advice to married people about that time of day when the Dad comes home to a house where the Mom is often exhausted and frazzled and, instead of having dinner started like she'd planned, is nursing a fussy baby while other small children circle like frenzied hyenas nipping at one another and howling. So, she tends to assign her spouse a job as a response to his "Hi, I'm home!" rather than offer a cheery greeting of her own. I remember those days...but we accidentally stumbled onto a different way that I didn't even know was so special until Cool Guy told me.

When it approached that time of day for his arrival back at the ramshackle structure we loved and lived in, I'd mobilize the forces and we'd quickly clean up the house. It would be strewn with toys and clothes a short time later, but that first impression of order was very soothing to Dad. I usually had something cooking because most of my meals required a long prep as it was cheaper to cook that way. the magic hour approached...we could hear the motorcycle engine as he powered up the hills that led to our house in San Diego...the kids would rush outside to the porch and the dogs would start to bark and run around in contagious joy...and TA DA---there's our Dad coming up the long driveway on the chopper! Cue the cheering! Cue the jumping up and down! Everyday...same drill.

Well, one day it was raining hard, I needed the car, and so he got a ride to the base and home again with a co-worker. They stopped at this man's house before dropping off Cool Guy and later he recounted how no one even looked up when THIER dad walked in the door. They were watching cartoons, Mom was folding laundry; blah--Dad's home---blah. Cool Guy told me how he was amazed and that right then, realized how much he LOVED coming home everyday, because of his hero's welcome.

Wow. I didn't even know. I didn't make the welcome ceremony happen. It was spontaneous. We were genuinely happy to have him come home everyday. The roaring Harley engine gave us the chance to anticipate it right to the moment, but still, everyone was pleased to welcome our Dad.

Tonight, I'm headed to the airport, again, to do the Welcome Home ceremony. It's a little different now---no barking dogs and leaping children---but I still get the house all tidied up and comb my hair and give him what?? A GREAT BIG KISS!

Monday, December 18, 2006

My Real Life...Back

Everytime there is an extended break from school---like summer in a nine month school--or now, the two weeks for "winter" break, I feel like I have my "real" life back. I have now been teaching full-time for 12 years. You'd think I'd have become accustomed to being a full-time working woman. That is what I am---actually, I usually spend much more than 40 hours on my job each week. But I spent eighteen years without a full-time paid job outside my home. I'm being so careful with that description because during that time, I had day-care kids for nearly five years, and I worked part-time a couple of years in my children's elementary school as a half-day aide, and again, as a substitute teacher. But, these jobs enabled me have essentially the same hours as my schoolkids. My last two babies were taken care of by other paid women off and on throughout the years, but never full-time, never every day. So, I consider this my "working" years. Most of my paid work before teaching was on my schedule, and didn't require me to put my kids in day-care for eight or nine hours a day. I still had hours at home each day with them.

But now when I have an extended break from school, it is such a relief to feel like "normal" again, even though I don't have children living at home. I can help with church things, I can sew, I can go to doctor appointments without a huge production. (Writing lesson plans is a 2:1 kind of activity--it is SO much easier to just teach it yourself.) I can be in my house during the daylight hours. I LOVE IT.

So I'm torn: I love teaching school. I especially love my paycheck. But I really do miss my old life of being available to help other people and do stuff around my house. However, if I had no paycheck I'd be unable to have the luxury I have during my time off to do some of the good things I get to do. So, I should just enjoy my times off, and appreciate that we both had the expectation that while we had kids living at home, I'd get to be their mom--there at home. I'm the one who decided I'd go to college and start working now.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sexiest Man Alive

People Magazine says that it is George Clooney in 2006.

But---no---the title definitely goes to Cool Guy who is just finishing up the dishes while I balance my checkbook. There is nothing more erotic than a man with a dishtowel in his hand, standing in a clean kitchen that was messy 30 minutes ago.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Secret to My Success

I had a co-worker come to me today to see what I'd done to get some students moved into another class. Ummm...nothing except be a racist, hateful, white teacher...apparently. She has a very difficult second-grader who hits her and others, and shouts and throws things, and she knows that I started this school year with several really difficult students, three of whom are now in other teachers' rooms. But, seriously, I did nothing but try to get them under control by meeting with their parents and starting a daily behavior log that the parents were to sign every night and return to school.

This behavior log has served me well in the past by enabling me to have a quick conference, hourly, with the student to monitor several behaviors and rate them with a "yes" or "no" for that hour. It helps the student by enabling them to recover from a bad hour or two and go on to having a better day. The parents know each day that there will be an accounting and the student can earn a reward by having improved behavior at school. The whole idea is to help the child change old habits and, of course, make my life easier. EXCEPT---that I forgot those pesky Hidden Rules.

So I used the behavior chart for a couple of weeks with these students, but there wasn't any obvious improvement. But I did get remarks from the parents in their reply space to the effect of "[My darling wonderful child] will stop teasing [hideous pest in your room] when he stops teasing her." or...[Fabulous charming boy of mine] says that the whole bathroom problem was all [dreadful wretched other boy's] fault. You only punished my boy. I want to meet with the other parents and the principal to solve this once and for all." Hmmm...

So, another tenet of Ruby Payne is that changing behavior is not the goal of punishment. In generational poverty, people are punished by withdrawal of affection/attention. Then, when the person in charge considers that the punishment has lasted long enough, the attention/affection is returned. But no expectation is ever made that the punished one will change the behavior because of the punishment. People just are what they are---they can't be expected to reform, improve, change. That would imply that one has power over one's fate and that simply isn't so in this world.

So, my presumptious and rude implication that their child should alter their behavior by annoying everyone with my little pieces of paper was actually just the last straw. The first straw being that I would complain to them about something the kid did in my classroom. It IS the classroom after all---keep it there. They don't bring me their troubles from home, do they? (No, they don't actually bring them...they come on the school bus.)

But the ultimate outcome was that my meddling in their affairs by attempting to enlist them in the education of their offspring was just the final evidence of my unrelenting unfairness toward them and all their family, and the only reason that I could possibly have for this horrible behavior would be my ugly racist attitudes.

But, since, ultimately, I no longer have to deal with their student on a day to day basis--no problem. Call me what you will---just move your child to some other teacher's room if that'll make you happy. I know it made me happy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Party Girl

I just got back from Maryland where I was on the ground for just 25 hours. I went to a party. It all started when Cool Guy said to me (in September when we were at a wedding reception) "Wouldn't it be great if you came to my company Christmas party? We'd have a good time and everyone could finally meet you and see what a fox you are." Well, how could I say no? Except that the party was on a Tuesday night---the middle of the school week. Well, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go anyway. I wrote two days of lesson plans (and you know's twice as much work to tell someone else what to teach as it is to just be there and do it yourself.)

I left Vegas on the midnight red-eye, landed in DC at 7:00 A.M. , took the Metro out to the Southern Maryland stop and he picked me up and drove down to our place there. I slept for a few hours while he went over to the base and worked. Then we drove up to Baltimore, checked into the hotel, dressed and went to the party. I'd bought a really nifty red silk mandarin style jacket to wear over a black silk skirt and (in my quest to replace my jewelry) found some marcasite and garnet earrings to go with it. We had yummy hors d'oeuvres and chatting. We sat down for the salad and entrees (filet of beef with roasted vegetables) and chose creme brulee for dessert. It is a small company, about 25 people were there, and it is an interesting mix of young and old, Israeli and American, military vets (from both countries) yarmulkes, and male and female. A surprising number of wives are teachers from such a small sample of men. So there was fascinating conversation and, as the wine bottles emptied, hilarious and sometimes ribald, jokes. I had to get up the next morning after only five hours of sleep to get back to the airport and I landed back in the desert at 10:30 A.M. But my sense of time is very distorted after two nights of limited sleep and radical time zone shifts. I'll get some sleep tonight, because tomorrow, I'm back to my old job of just being a fourth grade teacher.

But--overall---was it worth it? Well, of course!! How often does an old lady get to fly first-class just to go to a party as eye-candy on the arm of a cute guy?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Time Is: 11:00 P.M.

Last time we were with S-Boogie, Grampa Cool Guy let her play with his watch. It's a pretty cool watch with lots of buttons and sounds and gizmoes. It even lights up. There's an alarm, too. We know, because S-Boogie set it for 11:00 P.M. and every night it beeps right on the dot. It keeps on beeping after all these months because we're not quite sure where the direction book is and, so far, the various things that Grampa Cool Guy has tried haven't un-set the alarm. We need to go see the grandchildren so S-Boogie can fix Grampa's watch. In the meantime, everynight at 11:00 P.M. we have a sweet little reminder that she's a pretty clever girl. Like we needed to be reminded!