Thursday, January 20, 2011

Glued to the Tube

Since TV shows seem to be the latest blog topic (ex: Staci  and Randi), I figured that I would hop on the bandwagon and post about my favorites as well.

Currently, our DVR is recording the following series:
American Idol, Castle, Cougar Town, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Hawaii Five-O, House, How I Met Your Mother, Mike and Molly, Modern Family, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Bachelor, Toddlers and Tiaras, and V.

Our DVR also is scheduled to record these series when they air:
24, Dancing with the Stars, Flash Forward, HGTV Design Star, My Boys, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, and The Sing Off.

Holy cow...22 shows!  That's rediculous.  Thank goodness we stopped recording all the different versions of CSI and Law and Order!  There are some series we record that I refuse to watch, like Toddlers and Tiaras (recorded for the girls), 24, and V (my husband's "guilty pleasures").  There are also some series that I enjoy, but don't really watch, like House and Castle.  The kids love Extreme Makeover, Design Star, and Project Runway, so, they're reserved for "family viewings."  So that leaves ME responsible for the recording of...14 shows.  Yikes!  Well, maybe 13, because I'm not too optimistic about this season of American Idol...  Or 12, because I don't think Flash Forward is coming back on... And The Bachelor, Dancing with the Stars, and So You think you can Dance never air at the same time, so that makes 10, right?!

Here are my current top 5:
(I, ranking them is really hard)
5.  How I Met Your Mother
Barney is just too funny!
4.  NCIS: LA
Beats out the original NCIS because of its phenomenal character development.
...and because Chris O'Donnell is hot.
3.  Modern Family
Puts the fun in dysfunctional!
2.  Cougar Town
A show revolving around drinking wine...need I say more?
1.  Mike and Molly
A cute romantic comedy.
Best part: my husband loves it too!

But then, my heart reminds me that those are just my top 5 recorded shows.  What about all the shows on the Travel Channel, or Food Network, or the Cooking Channel?!  The ones that don't get recorded, because there's no way I can convince Scott to watch them with me on a regular basis?!  Don't they deserve a list, too?!  Yes, probably.  But not today.  Because I have just come to the realization that I am addicted to television.  Now I'm depressed. Sigh.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Found Poetry

So, my students are studying poetry in class right now.  Not my favorite unit to teach, because they have a difficult time understanding all the elements and figurative language.  But, some of my favorite writing lessons are a part of this unit.  Today, we are doing my all-time favorite lesson: found poetry.  Last week, they cut out words/phrases in magazines that appealed to them.  That was the only instruction they were given...except that they would be using the words later.  Today is that day.  Using the words they cut out, plus up to five additional words, they are to create a poem.  It's amazing to see how the words unintentionally fit together to make creative masterpieces.  Here are the three I created this year:

Happiness is good food
Like crazy delicious cheese, cupcakes, bacon, Starbucks Coffe, and tasty tea.
Eat your heart out.
 This Mom's Life:
Genius organizing, crayons and fresh laundry, shopping by mail, family dinners, good reads, tub therapy.
...A dream come true!
 Best Friends:
The perfect pairing, an incredible journey, good advice.
She was sassy, fabulous, flawless; loved her faith and family.
But she's in Heaven now.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Don't Get It

I am a middle school teacher.  I also have a 14 year-old-stepdaughter.  So, I am around teens/preteens A LOT!  I see how they act in the hallway.  I see how they act in the classroom.  I see what they post on Facebook.  And almost daily, one of them does something that completely baffles me.  So, I decided to compile a list of the five things that perplexes me most about today's teenagers.  

1.  Photographs

Kaitlin hates us taking her picture.  Now, part of this I understand, because she's desperate to have her braces off, and I remember not wanting my picture taken with braces, either.  But when my parents wanted pictures of holidays or vacations, I would oblige without too much of a fuss (example: there's a really horrible picture of me in Virginia with my head in a cardboard that's a good daughter!).  I have to practically beg Kaitlin to let me or Scott take a picture of her!  And if I post any pictures of her on Facebook (even if they're professionally taken) and "tag" her in it, 90% of the time she removes the tag.  And she's GORGEOUS, so you know they're not "bad pictures" (like she claims)!  I would NEVER post anything that I thought made her look bad!  BUT...(and here's where the bafflement comes in)...she and her friends (and many other teens I know) will post hundreds of pictures they took of themselves...posing in the mirror with their phone as the camera, making rediculous faces, etc., many of which aren't the most flattering pictures... So, why the fuss over a decent picture with an amazing camera?!?

2.  Facebook Friends

So, I randomly selected 5 of my Facebook friends my age and averaged their number of friends: 524
I then found 5 of my Facebook friends who are under 18 and averaged their number of friends: 692
Why is our average lower?!  We've been around longer, had more experiences, made friends in college...we should know more people!  Here's the difference: I personally know ALL of my friends.  I can say this with complete honesty, because I went through and double-checked each and every friend....all 637 of them!  Now, some I haven't talked to since middle school, but that's a different post (coming next week, I hope).  But, teens will be friends with people they don't know (which is actually pretty scary to me!).  (Example: Suzy adds Billy, because they're both friends with Katie, but the only reason Katie was friends with Billy was because he's Jason's cousin's older brother...or something along those lines.)  And I know they don't know all of their Facebook friends because they'll play those "like this status and I'll..." games, and will "like" the status of someone they don't know!  So, then that person writes something on their wall along the lines of "I don't know you,'re really pretty."  Why?  I don't get it...I really don't.

3.  "Text Me"

I see "Text me" posts ALL OVER Facebook.  I don't get it.  What is that person supposed to text you?  "Ok, I texted you, now what?"  If you want to have a conversation with that person, here's an idea: TEXT THEM!  And, while I'm on the subject of texting, here's a few more:  constant and anti-social texting.  I realize that when I was in middle school and high school I was on the phone for hours a day.  But not ALL of them.  Besides, you had to be.  You couldn't just send out a mass text to all your friends and tell them you and Bobby broke had to call each one individually (or, if you were lucky, you could talk to two friends on three-way) and explain the story and discuss the story with each phone call.  So if you condense all of those phone calls, it was probably close to one hour of total conversation.  But people text from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed.  I don't understand how they have so much to say!  (Then again, I don't have much to say and am attempting to write a blog, go figure!)  And, what's even more odd to me is that groups of teens will get together and text...not talking to each other at all!  Are they texting each other?  Who knows!  What's the point of wasting the gas to drive over to someone else's house when face-to-face communication is not occuring?  Save the money...stay home.  Text them.

4.  Apathy

My students don't care about ANYTHING!  They don't turn in homework; they don't do work in class....they can't even bring a pencil to class on a daily basis!  Calling home doesn't seem to phase them, and they're happy to be sent to SAC (in-school suspension).   They don't put forth any effort, and are therefore willing to fail a class and make their parents pay for summer school.  Are you kidding me?!?  My parents would have killed me for any of the above!!!

5.  Sagging Skinny Jeans

Rediculously self-explanatory.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

G Free: is it for me?

So, my friend Randi decided to go gluten-free. (You can read about her adventures here)  As any language-arts-teaching, book-loving, nerd would do when making a life decision like that, she bought several books on the topic.  As many of you know, my stepdaughter Kennedy, is also gluten-free, diagnosed with Celiac's disease right before our wedding.  I have often made two separate meals when the kids are with "normal" and one for her, and have just recently started toying with the idea of going completely gluten-free when they are with us, or maybe even going completely gluten-free.  As any two friends who share a passion do,we've shared: ideas, recipes, and finally...books!  She recently finished reading The G Free Diet: A Gluten Free Survival Guide by Elisabeth Hasselbeck (Survivor and The View) and has passed it on to me.  Since not all of you reading this are nerds like us, I decided to post the Cliff's Notes version of what I've learned, just in case you were curious. :-)

Celiac's Disease:
  • It is genetic.
  • It is NOT an allergy - it is a condition that causes a toxic reaction to gluten.
  • It can cause things such as type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, infertility, and miscarriage, even if you don't know you have the disease!
  • Symptoms can go unnoticed for many years, and are not developed until some sort of physical or emotional trauma activates the condition.
  • A protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that is the sticky, binding substance that holds things such as bread together.
  • An all-purpose stabilizer and thickener that can be found in a wide variety of products.
  • Hidden sources: beer, flavored coffee, gravy, beauty products, envelope adhesive, play-doh
  • "Wheat-free" does not mean "gluten-free"
Going Gluten-Free:
  • Replace, don't remove: Substitute gluten with alternatives, don't just eliminate breads and/or carbs.
  • Check out websites such as
  • Naturally gluten-free foods: fruits, veggies, meats, nuts, dairy products, vanilla, spices, popcorn, chocolate, butter, oils, vinegar, sweeteners
  • Replace gluten with things such as corn (cornmeal, corn flower, cornstarch), rice, and tapioca (Elisabeth's list is MUCH longer, but these are the most common household items, and what we use at our house)
  • Gluten-free foods take longer to cook.
  • Take your own snacks to parties: either a "party pack" large enough for everyone to share, or a snack slipped into your pocket to be eaten discreetly.
  • If eating at a restaurant, be polite, be specific when you order, and always leave a generous tip.  Look online for a gluten-free menu before leaving the house, or don't hesitate to ask about the gluten-free options.
  • Because a gluten-free diet often introduces more grains into your eating habits, you receive more nutrients.
Gluten-Free Recommendations (taste tested in our kitchen):
  • Chex and Pebbles cereals
  • Ian's Fish Sticks and Chicken Nuggets
  • Van's Waffles and French Toast Sticks
  • Glutino Pretzel Sticks
  • Ener G Foods Light Tapioca Bread
  • Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
  • Bisquick Pancake Mix
  • Annie's Cheddar Mac and Cheese
  • De Boles Rice Pasta
  • S'Better Farms Corn Dogs
  • K-Toos Cookies (Gluten-free Oreos)
Gluten-Free Recoomendations (from Elisabeth):
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Pamela's Cookies
  • Pirate's Booty (especially the cheese puffs)
  • Kettle Chips
  • Bob's Red Mill
  • Mary's Gone Crackers
  • Babycakes NYC (I saw them on the Food Network...wonder if they deliver to Texas...)
HEB actually has a pretty decent gluten-free stock...otherwise I head to Sprouts or Whole Foods.  You can also go to  When I find something that Kennedy really likes, I check Amazon...often I can buy in bulk for MUCH cheaper.

Favorite Quotes:
  • "Tomorrow is the best remedy for a terrible today."
  • "Living without gluten does NOT mean giving up your passion for food."
  • "Often, people are more open-minded about new foods AFTER they've tasted them.  So surprise your family members - and don't hesitate to be sneaky!"
  • "Don't eat a bite just to be polite!"
I really enjoyed reading that book, and if you have decided to look into the gluten-free lifestyle, I would highly recommend it.  Am I going to force my whole family to go gluten-free? No.  I will still keep the gluten/gluten-free "option" available when it is easy and convenient.  If having that option would make me feel like a "made-to-order" cook, then yes, that meal will probably end up completely gluten-free.  As for myself, I think I might just give it a try.  I don't know if Kennedy feels singled out because of her Celiac's...she doesn't seem to be bothered by it, but we also don't really talk about it much.  But, whether or not she does, it's always nice to have someone who's in the same boat as you are.  Besides, if it really will give me more energy, better my attention span, and potentally get rid of my headaches and prevent illnesses, why not?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winter Jam Resolution

Ok, so with New Years and resolutions and everything, there are all kinds of 14-, 30-, etc. day challenges being promoted...blah, blah, blah...whatever.  But this morning, I was listening to 92.1 K-LOVE and heard a challenge that I thought was worth honoring: listen to nothing but Christian music for 30 days and see how your perspective changes.  I'm excited about this for several reasons:
1.  I have been a church camp counselor for many years, and an "exec" committee member prior to that, so my contemporary Christian CD library from the late 1990's to the early 2000's is pretty extensive.  So, when I'm listening to the radio and decide I don't want to listen to the talk any more, the CD that is in my disc changer will most likely bring back fond memories.
2.  I might finally know some of the newest contemporary songs that are being sung at Celebration, so that I can sing along and not look like a fool just staring at the lyrics on the jumbo-tron.
3.  I have an excuse.  I have been listening to 96.7 recently to help my "cool" status - both in the middle school teacher AND stepmom realm.  Although the tunes are catchy and the lyrics are sometimes decent, I still cringe every time my youngest children (both under age 10) sing "let's go all the way tonight" with Katy Perry...silently praying they don't really understand what she means.
I have always enjoyed Christian music, so I don't think it will be difficult limiting myself based on of my resolutions is to spend more time in conversation with God, so maybe the songs I hear will be a sign from Him...and I've been needing/wanting a perspective on life, bring it on!  I look forward to what the next 30 days have to offer!  (Especially if it includes lots of Michael W. Smith...his voice is amazing, and his blue eyes are, well, also amazing!) :-)