Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hello everyone!

Saturday we enjoyed a beautiful evening at the reservoir. Ruth and the kids joined Mom, Dad and me for an evening of food and swimming. We grilled Hillsboro sausage, ate fresh veggies and dip, enjoyed several salads and of course yummy smores. After dinner the kids and I went swimming, the water was cool because we were in the shade by that point, but we had a good time playing Monkey in the Middle and just swimming around.

Mint and Feta Lentil Salad
1 cup lentils
3 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 TBSP chopped mint (I used dried)
salt and pepper to taste
6 oz. Feta cheese

6 TBSP olive oil
6 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 TBSP lime juice
1/2 to 1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. minced garlic

Rinse lentils. Cover lentils with water with several inches extra. Put in bay leaves, garlic and oregano, and boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until lentils are tender. Drain and cool.

Whisk together the marinade/dressing, and add salt and pepper. Add the veggies and dressing to the lentils and let it marinate before serving. Add mint and feta right before serving.

Sunday the Buller siblings sat in Arlin and Maretta's basement to divide out some of the boxes left over from moving Grandma. I went as well, and enjoyed listening to their stories and their laughter together. I am so thankful to be part of 2 large families that love to be together. Not very many are as fortunate as I.

We've had some spectacular sunsets in my area of KS recently. Sunsets are one of my favorite ways of remembering God and his love for us. I've been reading the book "The Shack" these past weeks. It is a book that has been difficult for me to get through (although this is not most people's experience with the book). While at times I have forced myself to keep turning the pages, I do like the fact that the book questions what we feel we "know" about God. While we "know" that God is neither male nor female, most of the people I went to school with only see God as a male figure, and when we talked about God as a mother in Bible class, reacted with a feeling close to revulsion. In the book "The Shack" God appears as an African American woman, speaking in incomplete sentences, and dishing up collard greens. I've never understood my classmate's reactions in that Bible class, whether they were more familiar with a vengeful God, whether it was a battle over the sex of God, etc... For myself, I delight in the idea that God escapes our ability for exact descriptions. My own imagination has several versions of what God looks like, but my favorite closely resembles the grandfather figure in my favorite children's book "Grandfather Twilight", by Barbara Berger. The book has beautiful soft pictures, and its a wonderful 'good-night' book before bed. The story shows Grandfather Twilight as he walks through the darkened forest each evening to welcome the night with his gift to the darkness, the moon. The recent sunsets have had me turning the pages to this book many times in the past weeks. Each time I look at it I smile, and find peace in the knowledge I have a loving mother, father, friend, and protector...May you have that same peace.

Good night!

Friday, August 22, 2008

1 week done!

It's been a couple weeks since I was sitting on Mom and Dad's back porch, spending the day researching appropriate woods for smoking and which ones Dad can use from his pile in the back, smelling the smoke that was cooking our meat. The salmon is amazing, and something we will be doing again soon. It might just be the best thing we've ever done on the smoker. Maybe we'll take orders next time! :)

School has started. Today ends our first full week. One of my kids has been missing all week, and he's the one that will take the most time from my day. He's got very low skills, and terrible behaviors... This week is the calm before the storm of the next school year. It's been a full week even without him, and I'm tired to the bone. It has been a good week, to see how the schedule will work this year, where there are problems, and fix them before I can't concentrate on those things...

I'm tired not just from work, but I've been making an effort to exercise every morning and evening. As it is now, I'm swimming 1/2 mile in the morning, and 1/4 mile in the evenings, plus 1 hour of water aerobics Monday through Thursday evenings. Rising at 5:40 a.m. has never been something I enjoy, but I know I need to do it. It takes me about 20 minutes to swim my 1/2 mile and then I shower and get ready for school. The pool is just across the street from the school, so I don't even bother going home again. I'm getting done quickly, and hope to add more to my workout, but my shoulders are giving me problems...I think I better stick with what I've been doing for awhile and hope the shoulders can work through it.

Last night I didn't get home from work until 9:30 p.m. After working at the school, I packed up my massage table and went on a home visit. I gave two hour-long massages, then packed up my table again and headed back to town. I unloaded everything, was at home for maybe 10 minutes, and then went to the massage clinic and two more massages. At 9:30 when I got home, I just dropped in bed. No supper, or anything. Far too tired!

Tonight I need to run to Hillsboro after school and stock up on Hillsboro sausage. I'm planning a cookout at the reservoir tomorrow night for the Kreiders (family that I was a nanny for in Germany), and mom and dad. I've got a bunch of food type stuff to get done tonight (pasta salad, lentil salad, baked beans, veggies/dip, sausage cut in appropriate lengths), plus I'd like to have a chance to hang out with a few of my friends and relax tonight! I suppose I should pick up my house too, in case we get rained out tomorrow night.

Tomorrow I have a couple massages, but I'm hoping it will be a slower day overall. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

And here I sit...

I'm currently encamped on my parent's back deck, watching the rain drizzle down, with my feet up, smelling the smells of Winfield. Occasionally I get up to check the temperature on the smoker, and adjust it so the temp stays under 200 degrees. The smoke pouring out of it smells wonderful, and we'll be the talk of the neighborhood today. 2 weeks ago we smoked 12 chickens. Today we are attempting beef--and lots of it! These are the biggest roasts I've ever seen. We'll also do 3 chickens later today, and I'm going to do 2 salmon halves. We've never tried the beef or the salmon, so I'm hoping for good results.

This morning I marinated the salmon in rum, and then put a brown sugar and coarse salt rub on it. They are sitting in the fridge right now curing, and then later today I'll put them on the smoker. It has to be good, right? :) We also made a mop-sauce for the beef--a combination of beer and what we rubbed the beef in. We're hopeful it will keep the beef nice and moist.

Our weather this week has gone between the extremes--hot and humid 100+ to nice and cool and rainy (enough so that I'm all bundled up, and thinking about begging for a pair of pants!) I much prefer the weather of today to the hot stuff we had yesterday, fall is my favorite season after all. Maybe we'll have a longer fall this year--it always seems to go so fast. Instead of fall weather, we end up having 100+ days through September, and then October it is winter all of a sudden. Ok, my perception might be skewed a bit...but the true fall days don't last very long around here.

Yesterday was my first day back at work. I say that, but I really didn't ever not work this summer. I spent much of my summer working for the special education cooperative with teaching summer school, or doing assistive technology work. When I wasn't doing school related things, I was at the massage clinic. Yesterday though was the first day I had to report for the new school year. The SPED coop had inservice yesterday. It is always a boring day, sitting in uncomfortable chairs, and listening to dry reports and regulation changes. I had to present a 30 minute talk on Assistive Technology with my team. It went pretty well, but the director informed me that there will be several more talks to come. I am able to speak to large groups, but it is NOT my favorite thing to do. The director wants me (with help from the other members of the team) to end up doing several teacher inservices throughout the coming year(s). Normally teachers travel to places to hear presentations for inservice from experts in the field, hiring a sub for their classroom, etc... Now he wants to set it up on a more local level, and wants me to do some presentations in regards to specific software and which technology works with which types of kids. I'm nervous about it...again, public speaking is not my favorite, and I feel like I'm still a young teacher, not someone who has been teaching for ages and ages, and very unlike the experts we all go and hear at our conferences. But I also appreciate the fact that he has confidence in me and my abilities. It makes me feel good.

Tomorrow I'm singing a solo at church, and I've invited several people to come and listen. Mom and Dad will be there too, and then we'll go try out one of the new restaurants in Marion.

Monday and Tuesday bring more inservices, this time with Marion District. Wednesday will be a work day for me, a chance to get my room in order, train my paras, etc... Thursday the kids show up, and the school year starts for another round. There are big changes on the air, especially in what is allowed for SPED and pull-out times. It will be an adjustment for everyone, but I'm anticipating a rough year with some of the teachers I work with. They don't always agree with SPED rules and regulations, and take it out on me since I'm the one who has to enforce them. I've also got some difficult kids on my caseload this year, and it will take a lot of time and patience to help them. Please keep me in your prayers as this school year starts. I'm anxious about how it will all turn out.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The name game

Well, I've got two new members of my household. I'm hoping you can help me out, since they came without names. Meet ___________ and __________. They were given to me by a friend that I teach with. Originally they were Easter presents for her two children, but the children no longer want to take care of them, and never have played with them. We are unsure of whether they are male or female, but they are both the same sex, as they are several years old, and have not made babies together during that time. Heidi and I had a rabbit when we were younger, and although we too were reluctant to take care of it, we did love to play with it. The rabbits came with their own hutch, which is a vast improvement over the cage Heidi and I had for ours. No more changing soggy newspaper! Yippee!! It's a beast to move though, so that will be interesting whenever I move away from Marion. Please submit any suggestions for names. I also welcome any visits, from children of all ages who would like to pet and play with rabbits! :)

This is the last week before I go back to school on Friday. I gave one massage today, and then came home to clean up the house (did not get very far on this) and take a nap. I also dealt with some of the produce that has been sitting on my counter, and played with the rabbits for awhile. They had their first hop around my yard, which I'm sure is a new experience for them. I doubt they ever got out of the hutch with the former owners. By the end, they were much more willing for me to pet them than when we started. The weather around here is 100+ (I think it was 103.7 on my thermometer when I was outside with the rabbits), so I made sure to give them some air conditioning (frozen water bottles that they can lay against). The ice melted fast in this weather, so I'll have to freeze additional bottles. Thankfully we positioned the hutch so the sun won't be beating in during the hottest point in the day.

The next few days I'm planning on just staying home and relaxing. I'm not telling any of my friend around here that though, as they are all good at coming up with activities for me. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends dearly, and do like to help them out and spend time with them, but I need a little time just for myself before school starts. I've got a stack of magazines, and books that I've been meaning to read all summer, as well as my house to get clean before the rush of the school year. I do have a day planned to spend time with Kym, since I rarely see her once school starts. We're planning on watching Pride and Prejudice, making bread, painting our toenails and just having fun in general.

My bathroom is completed, which brings me much joy! :) It's such a relief to have a working toilet, as well as nice new linoleum. It feels so much cleaner! I'm still waiting on a new light fixture, as they removed the old one, but overall I'm thrilled!

I'm also posting some pictures of last weekend. I spent Saturday smoking chickens (12 in all) with my father. Mom spent Sat. figuring out her new computer and internet connections, while Dad spent time helping Ken B. in the kitchen with the new cupboards and counter top. It was HOT, but we had a good time together. Next weekend I'll be smoking again, this time with beef, a few chickens, and hopefully a salmon. We haven't tried to smoke salmon before, but I'm eager to try. Sunday I sing in church, and have invited several Marion friends (as well as Mom and Dad) to come and hear me. I'm trying to figure out what to serve them all for lunch. I'm thinking chicken mole, with salad and spicy rice. It has to be something I can prepare before and just heat up, especially since I will be gone all day on Sat. and won't be able to prepare much.