Crappy Voice(?) and Angel(s)

Happy first Monday of March, people! Please tell me spring is a-comin’–I am D.O.N.E. with snow and the cold.

So how cool is this li’l cutie hubby found on Facebook? I certainly hope he’s for real! (Video is 1:34–pinky swear it will make your day!)

So last Wednesday was blog-post fodder, everyone. A little of everything: kid drama and humor; a could-be problematic incident for me with an angel (?) or heavy-duty coincidence stepping in.

Day started off okay. Managed to focus and work on a report despite much preferring to chat with coworkers.

Drama showed with one of my third graders who has next-to no impulse control when he’s with one particular classmate. Tried seeing what I’d do when he pushed my buttons. Forced me to  put on my “discipline” hat  (i.e., make an active choice to not make excuses for his behavior b/c of his special needs).  I followed through: “Third warning. Back to class and tell your teacher you lost a point.” (This is big for them in class, lol. I felt so mean too. When you’ve had kids on your roster since they were three, you start to love them much the way you love your own.)

So we were practicing “French”, as his classmate refers to cursive handwriting. (Beats the kids who want to write in “curses.” Yes, many of my guys have delays and/or difficulty with speech, especially articulation. You learn the lingo after a while.) This little cutie of Costa-Rican born parents somehow inherited a mild accent that his parents don’t have. He is not, however, lacking in command of English or connecting verbal dots.

One of the girls was having a hard time with forming the letters. I took a peek at her paper and started to comment on where she was having a problem. “Okay, Mrs. Joanna. Please don’t yell at me.”

Huh???

“Since when does Mrs. Joanna yell?” (I rarely raise my voice.)

Li’l Costa Rican accent pipes in: “Mrs. Joanna doesn’t yell. She’s just using her crappy voice.”

He. Did. Not. Say. That–Oh! Li’l Accent Boy was referring to my typical line when they’re making me nuts, “Why do I need to use my crabby voice?”

What can I say? My students get to know me too.

And the day progressed until I had to leave one school to go to another. Dragged three bags, my binder and a travel coffee mug to the car. Had to do a bit of shuffling to get to the keys, dump everything in and take off.

Got to second school with five minutes to spare before session time. Grabbed the bag I’d prepacked for the 5th graders and reached for the binder with ALL my goals, objectives and progress logs.

Binder is not there.

NOOOOO! I did not leave it on the trunk and drive off!

Yanked out cell.  Called first school. Begged secretary to leave her warm office space and go to cold parking lot to look for blue binder. (Of course, the stuff inside is legal documentation as of this month, not to mention kids’ first and last names on EVERY page. And so goes HIPPA.)

Secretary came up empty. I entered second school and immediately wailed to art teacher, who is kind enough to share his room every week. (Yep. I have no real home in ANY school I work in. ‘Nuff said ‘bout that. Among the reasons I had so much stuff getting from door to car of first school.)

“Oh man,” art teacher says. “Know what’s really funny? I was wondering how you can always be so positive.”

“I’m positive I left my binder on the trunk and drove off.”

Suffered through that session—I was a tad flustered and preoccupied—and noticed a missed call from an unfamiliar, but local, landline.

Hope kicked in and I dialed my voicemail. Yay! Secretary found my binder about three blocks away, corner down in the snow! Papers dirty and wet, but cover not blown open and NOTHING missing! (IDK how it survived a left, a right and another left before finally losing contact with the car.)

Relief set in. I am not anxious by nature but this rattled me a bit, mostly b/c of the confidentiality thing.

Took at least two hours before normal calm set in. Then I realized had the other secretary picked up my first call (when I noticed my binder missing), the one who found it would have driven by the blue book stuck in the snow and ice and never thought twice. Instead she said she drove past and then, “OMG, blue!” registered. (She lives nearby and goes home for lunch daily.)

Everyone can talk coincidence as much as they want. My angel(s) stepped it up this past Wednesday. I did not complain about having to break down almost the entire binder and cover three beds with papers for them to dry. Made sure to lay them out in alphabetical order, as they are organized usually, so that re-organizing them would take less time.

Once the book was back together, I got to write the blasted notes. I suppose I was grateful I had everything I needed to do so, and will be able to turn them in, as is expected, within the next few days.

And we’re square with HIPPA (for today, anyway).

Thanks for indulging me.

This one’s kind of open. Talk to the topic or just talk. Sorry I went a little long, but at least I got something to write about in the end. (There’s that annoying positive outlook again… ;))

Have a great week,

Joanna

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Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right? (Part 6 and Done :)

The Australian Open Tennis Championships are underway! The first Grand Slam of 2014 is here! Tennis in the morning. Tennis after work. Tennis in the evening. Tennis at night.

And everyone wonders why I don’t get any real writing done. (“Yeh,” say the Aussies).

Yes, I’m moving on. Maybe a calming chamomile tea is in order. (Nah. Hate tea. Coffee’s my brew.) Hope everyone is well, this second full week of the New Year.

Can I possibly wrap up this series? I suppose I should have be done, but one incident with Older Son (OS) stands out too much to not share. And it’s so interesting how several seemingly unrelated events came together to help Hubby and me with our responses to the situation.

OS turned 17 this past November. In my state, that means a driver’s license, which he got December 11, 2013.

That means OS has had a driver’s permit since April. Sometime before June he came across a used car for sale, pretty much what he wanted, and a great deal for him. Hubby and I had our misgivings, but we allowed him to use a portion of his savings to buy it.

It got parked at a friend’s house, pronto, not to be registered or insured until he got the DL.

On a mid-June weekend this past summer, Hubby and I were supposed to go to our PA cottage. A dear friend had passed away and we’d hoped to attend the funeral, which was in the vicinity. OS was scheduled to work and Younger Son (YS) is in the ‘bored’ stage in PA (no internet connection for the X-box in the woods).

Because putting together arrangements for a responsible adult to be available to a 14- and 16- year-old was turning out to be more tedious than we figured it should have been, Hubby and I made a last-minute decision to stay home. Neither of us felt all that comfortable leaving the kids home while we were three hours away. And we’d visited my friend twice during her bout with cancer, so I felt better knowing I’d connected with her before she exited this life.

So, there we were Saturday afternoon, June 15th. Kids are both out and Hubby decides to step out—maybe run to the deli or something along those lines.

He came home livid.

He’s spotted OS driving his should-have-been-parked-car, with his girlfriend (GF) in the passenger seat.

OS came in a few minutes later, pleading his case for the necessity of the run.

Hubby grounded him on the spot, including not allowing him to attend a rather formal birthday party he and GF were due at in less than two hours.

Not sure I agreed with Hubby’s choice of handling the situation—he was pretty mad—and the party, as far as I could see, had nothing to do with the transgression. I spoke to Hubby privately (so that OS wasn’t aware of the conflict of opinions Hubby and I had), but supported his decision since it had already been made, and he felt very strongly about not changing it. He believed strong action that showed OS the severity of his transgression was necessary. I did agree with the rationale, but might have chosen a more related form of discipline (i.e., revoked even permit-driving privileges for x-amount of time, or something along those lines).

Aside: GF was kind enough not to attend the party w/o OS.

So, that’s how Saturday, June 15th went. OS probably said something to me here and there, but I reminded him (nicely) that he’d made a choice, got caught and now had to deal with the consequences of his action.

The next morning we realized there was some emergency vehicle activity going on a few blocks from our house. Being the mind-our-own-business folks we usually are, Hubby walked down to scope out the action then texted OS and GF to come down. They took off on their skateboards.

A FIFTEEN-year-old boy had taken his mother’s SUV—she had gone to church—piled in at least three friends and lost control making a turn. He ploughed headlights first into an electrical pole. (Don’t ask how the force at the bottom toppled the top third of the pole, knocking it onto a power line and taking out the electricity to one or more houses on that street.)

OS hung out, and chatted for a while with the tow truck guy, who talked about the law-end of what this kid and his family would be dealing with in the not-so-far-future. And that kid won’t be seeing a driver’s license anytime near his 17th birthday. (He kind of seriously messed up that privilege.)

So what’s my point? Hubby and I could have ranted and raved at OS for making the impulsive choice he did. We didn’t. In agreement or not, we stood united in doling out consequences. (We are lucky. OS takes his lumps like a man (?). YS shows a much more dramatic side, but eventually does his time—often the next day, once he’s calmed down.)

I’m getting at this: LIFE stepped in and demonstrated a real-life example of what could happen when a kid takes a vehicle, especially if said kid is not terribly skilled/experienced at handling it. Sans getting preachy, we used that illustration to point out how flippin’ lucky OS was that his actions the day before cost him a party and little else.

And how crazy was it that Hubby and I stayed home and Hubby just happened to be on the same road at the same time OS had taken out his car? Coincidence? I’m not so sure…

Anyone out there with similar experiences to share? Please do! How did you handle it? Would you have grounded OS from the party? If not, what consequences might you have imposed? Did life show up with a lesson better than anyone you could have given?

Have a great day, folks,

Joanna

Blueberry Cobbler is Easier than Pie!

No rolling crusts–who’s got time for that????

Hi all!

This post is dedicated to my mamma-via-marriage, since she recently asked me to jot down the recipe.

So…

Inspired by the peach cobbler recipe hiding at my Recipe Central page, I had to try a blueberry version.  (I came by Zoe’s awesome original at New Hampshire’s Fitzwilliam Inn; it’s about the third entry, dated August 30, 2010–just scroll down the page).

It doesn’t get easier than this! I’ve put this together before school and taken it in warm! People think I worked so hard to make it… 😉

What you’ll need:

2-1/4 cups of oatmeal (old-fashioned cook type works really well, but I’m sure you can get away with using instant)

1 stick of butter (you’ll get away with ¾ of one too)—the softer the better, but NOT melted

½ cup brown sugar

1 pint container of fresh blueberries (or about ½ of a 16-oz bag of frozen, thawed)—fresh is better

¼ cup of white sugar (you can probably substitute granulated Splenda or even use packets to taste—or skip sugar entirely, if you’re into the tartness of blueberries)

What to do:

Mash the oatmeal and brown sugar with the butter until the mixture resembles a thick paste. Spray a pan with cooking spray and press about ¾ of it into a 9-inch glass pie pan to form a crust.

In a bowl mix the blueberry filling, blueberries and white sugar. Pour over the crust.

Crumble and sprinkle the remaining paste on top of the blueberry mixture.

Bake uncovered at 350º F for about 35 minutes, or until crust is very lightly browned and blueberry mixture is bubbly.

blueberry cobbler   bluberry cobbler 2

Serve warm, room temperature or cold. Top with ice cream, whipped cream (or both!). I refrigerate leftovers then heat for breakfast and top with non-fat Greek yogurt flavored with vanilla. Welcome to blueberries and “cream” minus a slew of the guilt. Yum!

TTFN and have a great week!

Joanna

Holy Flippin’ Moly DWTS Topped Itself–AGAIN!!!

I must be allergic to sleep or I’m still running on the energy and adrenaline from the Dancing with the Stars Finale! After the All-Star Season, the question was: how do the powers-behind-the-show surpass that?

Bring in celebs who really could dance and pair them with pros that brought out the best on both sides. Chemistry abounded all around.

Zendaya and Val–best matched pair ever!! (Minus Big Bro Maks, Val’s talent showcased itself–just MHO; nuthin’ but love for ya, Maks :))

Jacoby and Karina–got past the height difference and just made it fun, fun, fun 😀 (He was my favorite celeb this season–those faces he made cracked me up.)

Ali and Mark–Ali took Mark face for face and kept up with my favorite pro…

And Kellie and Derek–a new queen for the multi-crowned king!

One beef: if the finals supersized to four couples, Ali and Mark should have competed during the Finale. I mean, what was the point of letting them go????

To whom would YOU have awarded the “coveted mirror ball trophy”?

And what the heck: we’re talking champions. Let’s throw in a mention to repeat Roman royalty on the clay courts!

Have a great day all!

Today is my birthday!

Happy Friday, Happy weekend and Happy Mother’s Day to all to whom this applies!

Since the “techie” blog I wanted to post is no where near done, I had to do something. (IDK, virtual cakes just don’t cut it for me. I’m thinking about something from Friendly’s though. Bet you can’t guess. ;))

friendlys -27

Anyway, thought I’d do a quick share of some awesome music by an up and coming star! As life and a small world would have it, I went to school with his dad (who, I am VERY sad to say, passed about three years ago).

Tam’s dad was also very into his music. If memory serves me well, he loved his drums. What I remember most though, was a question he posed: if I had to lose one, would I give up my sight or my hearing?

Tam’s dad would rather not see than never be able to hear music again.

With that, I present to you Tam Justin Garcia. Take a few moments and listen to Liquid Universe. (You’ll be very glad you did!)  Then, if you would be so kind, visit his Facebook and Twitter pages and share about him some more? Thank you!

On a tennis note, Rafa Nadal topped David Ferrer in the quarterfinals at the Mutua Madrid Open! (Just cause it’s my b-day—of course! Last night my older son caught me watching another match and asked if it’s “tennis season” again. With the tennis channel, this is now a very welcome and fun year-round thing! Which also means, you may be constantly in-the-know about tennis whether you share the passion–or not! :D)

Have a great day all!

Joanna

Post #300–Wow! How Did I Get Here? and THANK YOU!

Am I out of my mind? (Answers do not have to be recorded for my reading pleasure, thank you! ;))

Believe it or not–I certainly don’t–this is post #300! Had I been paying attention I probably would have gotten it up sooner.

Yes, friends, you’ve dealt with me for close to three years and 300 incidents of my musings, opinions, recipes and reflections (and surprisingly close to the three-year anniversary of my first post–so not planned). Every now and again, I’ve hopefully taught something, got you thinking, elicited a smile or chuckle or turned you on to a recipe you’ll use for years to come.

One could also hope I’ve created the desire for you to come back, despite the inconsistency of my posting at times, as well as the seemingly random subjects I’ve touched upon. I truly wish I had more time (and better focus and organizational skills) to really explore or chat about everything that interests me in some shape or form.

I THANK EACH OF YOU WITH ALL MY HEART for taking the time to visit and making me feel I am not alone here in cyberspace. (Giant hugs go out to those who comment regularly and to those of you who share my content.)

There are no words for how humbled one feels.

My sincerest gratitude,

Joanna

My Kitchen–The Danger Zone

Okay, friends, I’m psyched. Spent this past Saturday at the Liberty States Fiction Writers  Create Something Magical Conference. Had a wonderful time catching up with writer friends and recharging my creative batteries. On Sunday, Rafa v. DelPo at Indian Wells didn’t lack for the trappings and flavor of a grand-slam final. AWE-some!

Here’s a photo of the champ hoisting his trophy! (So no fun not being able to one here. :() And all credit to Juan Martin for really fighting. (The guy’s pretty much gained ranking of one of my favorites.) He fought hard doesn’t describe how well he played, including blasting off three match points to make Rafa serve it out. It was a helluva day in the California desert for tennis fans, folks.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled post.

Two weekends ago my brother and his family stopped by for a visit. Although my Italian-born mom would have preferred different, we agreed to keep the fare simple: snacks, pizza and salad (which I forgot to put out) and a few desserts.

Long story short: my brother really enjoys my pizza. As he walked by with his fourth (or fifth) piece, he casually tossed out a comment. “You’ve come a long way from those eggs you used to burn, huh?”

Let’s get this right: I undercooked the eggs and boiled the milk, lol. (Hey, everybody starts somewhere.)

His comment, however, reminded me of a couple of times I did burn food; both times I was pretty oblivious. And both times, my nose was stuck in a book, too.

The first incident: we had one family car and my mom went to pick up my dad. I was most likely a teen, because I was old enough to stay home alone. Mom had two covered pots on the stove. One had artichokes, the other broccoli. In Italian, she told me to turn on the latter.

FYI, in my mom’s dialect, broccoli and artichokes rhyme. Broccoli and caccioffoli. (Bet I was already into that book while she was passing on instructions.)

That’s right. I turned on the wrong pot. Then I went out on the front porch where I read until my parents got home. They pulled in the driveway to a stream of black smoke creeping out the back window.

Appropriately so, my mom freaked out.

The next time was even better.

Without another person to whom to assign the cooking—and having hoped I’d learned something from the previous experience—she put me on lentil-watch.

This time I was actually in the kitchen.

Well, I’d never heard food burn before. And I must have been so enthralled by my book, I didn’t smell or see the smoke filling the kitchen and our first floor apartment.

When the parents arrived and found smoke seeping out that back window again, they—especially mom (she’s the anxious one)—figured the house was on fire with me in it. (Good thing cell phones were probably a prayer then. She probably would have called 911 from the car.)

Guess I have come a long way from those days, but keep me away from an electric oven. (They tend to run hotter than gas, at least 25 ºF.) The pizza I made and brought and reheated at a friend’s wound up just a little crisp at the thinner end.

Care to share your kitchen gaffs? The floor is open!

BTW, if you’re interested in trying your hand at my (almost homemade) pizza, the recipe is here. A link to my fresh-veggie pizza is embedded there as well. And if you’re looking for more in the line of easy, elegant and/or quick fare, check out Recipe Central. Scroll through or just search this site as the more recent ones are simply tagged posts. And feel free to throw in links to your own favs too.

Sorry I missed last week. Guess things got a little hectic. Tis’ the busy season at work right now.

Have a great day, all, and thanks for stoppin’ by!

Joanna