Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage . . . They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
~Psalm 84:5

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thankful Thursdays!

1. The headache I had from Sunday thru Wednesday FINALLY went away by this morning . . . but was replaced by a sore throat. Blah!

2. Brandi and the kids are coming this weekend!

3. We were finally able to fix the pool pump, the chemical levels are leveling out, and temps will be in the mid- to upper-70's this weekend. Woohoo!

4. Having an Anchor in a time of such instability.

5. The Revive Our Hearts Conference this weekend I'm a bit nervous about attending.

6. Facebook -- it's a fun and easy way to keep up with friends who are spread out all over the world!

7. Only two more weeks until Spring Break!

8. Only three more weeks until I can eat pasta again!

9. Having a bit of a break from cooking this week.

10. Go Western Day tomorrow to kick off the Rodeo. That means wearing blue jeans to work! Yee haw!!!

11. An extra week before going on our field trip (to the Rodeo!) since I'll be administering the TAKS Test on the original trip date. That's right folks, I'm somehow qualified to administer the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Test even though it feels like I was just taking it myself not that long ago! Back then it was TAAS. Oh, how the tide has turned . . .

Bonus: The laughs I get from my occasional viewing of Jimmy Kimmel. He cracks me up!

Double Bonus: The ending of Lost tonight. SO GOOD!!!! And the episode of The Office that I recorded that I somehow missed earlier in the season.

Wow, that's a lot to be thankful for! I almost didn't type this post 'cause I was sick and tired and this has been a long and stressful week that won't even end after work tomorrow. But it's true: A thankful heart prepares the way for the Lord. Anywho, bedtime! Yay!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Never Ever Again

This afternoon I had to do something I hope to never, ever do again. I was asked to type up the Spanish translation of a letter explaining that one of our school's prekindergarten-4 students died over the weekend.

His family was at their church for a baby shower Thursday. He was in the childcare area and somehow wandered away. When they couldn't find him after an extensive search someone remembered that the neighboring house had a swimming pool in the backyard. Everyone ran and jumped into the murky water. It was so turbid that they couldn't see the bottom, so they just dove and dove. Until they found him.

Please pray for Anthony's family, especially his brother, Eli. They were just a year apart and inseparable. Also pray for Anthony's teacher and classmates. A grief counselor was on campus and explained what happened to his friends. But they're only 4. His teacher, especially, is taking it hard. He was more than a handful, therefore spent most of his days at his teacher's side.

Lord, may You pour out your comfort and grace in this time of mourning . . .

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Playing with Plantains!

I never tried plantains until this time last year. It's a huge Latin American delicacy but it was never used in any of the Mexican dishes I grew up with. In fact, it's not even really a Mexican thing. Anywho, I was out to dinner one night and it was ordered for me. They were good, a bit greasy though.

At the luncheon I went to Tuesday they had some thin strips of fried plantains in the bread basket. I decided to try one since I'm sure plantains are ok for SB. It was yummy! I detected some cinnamon on it, so reminded me of a dessert instead of a side.

Anywho, out shopping Wednesday (which was FABULOUS because that meant I didn't have to food shop this weekend!) I decided to buy two plantains. I searched different recipes online but then decided to do my own thing in the end 'cause everything I came along looked extremely greasy and slimy.

I wanted to make them crispy like the ones I had Tuesday, so I used a potato peeler (my Venezuelan friend who was at the luncheon told me that's how they made them). It was slimy and slippery and I didn't feel like fiddling with it so after a few strips I gave up and then thinly sliced the rest of the plantain.

I heated some oil and just minutes later, viola! Fried plantains:

Now I know fried anything is not completely SB acceptable, but I figured it's a nice treat every once and a while. And salted, they taste exactly like potatoes! So dinner tonight will be burgers and plantains! Yay!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

So exciting!!!

Doesn't this look AWESOME?! It makes me want to read the books again! Yes, I did watch Anne of Green Gables last weekend and felt the same about those books.
I miss the days of curling up with a good book and a hot cup of coffee and not feeling guilty. Oh, for it to be summer again! Or even Christmas vacation!

Thanks to Dani for the link!

My Tulips

I meant to snap a shot in my classroom, but I forgot.

The flowers have opened up and will start to wilt. The bulb is still attached and from what I've read online you can let the flowers fall and the leaves yellow and then pull them off the bulb, which can be planted in the summer. However, I noticed a small shoot starting to pop up and now I don't know what to do! Suggestions, anyone???

Thursday, February 21, 2008


What an amazing little girl:

. . . the soft-spoken 7-year-old is a hero after she threw herself across her mother just as a gunman was about to shoot the woman in an SUV.

. . .

The mother and daughter were getting a ride from a friend when Parker's former boyfriend emerged from the shadows outside Parker's house and jumped into the vehicle. He then forced the friend to drive at gunpoint for several minutes.

Under the pretense of needing fuel, Parker's friend stopped at a Detroit gas station to call 911.

Inside the SUV, Parker pleaded with the gunman not to shoot. As he was about to open fire, Alexis cried, "Don't hurt my mother!" and jumped into her mother's arms from the back seat.

Although 7-year-old Alexis was shot 6 times and spent two months in the hospital, she saved her mother's life and is recovering.

The AP reporter explains that Alexis is learning disabled, therefore it can't be determined if she meant to put herself between the bullets or not. Nevertheless, she's a hero! And anyone who reads this story and knows of the love between a mother and her child knows that Alexis meant to shield her mother from whatever evil she sensed in that SUV. And the most practical way to do that was to throw her arms around her mama.

What an amazing little girl!

Carne Guisada

I told you it looked vastly different from the pic in this link! It was delish, though! A bit tough, so I'll have to simmer it a bit longer next time. I used fresh garlic instead of the powder -- about 5 or 6 cloves! And I used closer to a tablespoon of cumin instead of a teaspoon. And nearly a half a cup of [whole wheat] flour and 1 1/2 cups of water to make it more gravy-e (less water because as the meat cook a lot of broth accumulated in the pan). I cooked a family pack of stew meat, so I had closer to 2 3/4 pounds as opposed to only 2 pounds.

I served it up with refried beans (canned, of course!) and my special zucchini & squash side. Hmm...I'll have to post that recipe sometime. My brother, who hates squash with a passion, would eat it . . . if he HAD to eat squash, of course!

As I was eating I couldn't help but dream about homemade flour tortillas. Mmmm . . . I still haven't perfected that recipe yet . . . but I can't try until March, anyway. *sigh*

Ok, since I'm typing this post and watching the end of Lost, simultaneously, I just have to comment that I SO CALLED IT!!! I won't say what, in case someone's reading this who hasn't seen it yet, but halfway through the show I told my mom how it was strange how they kept just saying, "him," and not his name. So I said, "Ya know, it would be too obvious for him to be ______'s ____, so he must be ______'s ____." And I was right!

Thankful Thursdays!

1. February is passing quickly! (Which is actually both frightening and exciting, actually.)

2. Turns out I don't have jury duty next Wednesday . . . because it was yesterday! But thankfully, I was able to reschedule it. I'm doing it during Spring Break so I don't have to waste one of my paid days off waking up even earlier than I do already to get downtown by 8 a.m.

3. The carne guisada recipe I just found online! I tweaked it, of course, so it looks nothing like the pic in the link. Hopefully I'll post a pic once it's completely finished simmering . . .

4. My kids might not be the smartest/best educated students in Kinder at my school, but they're loved and they love me!

5. The beautiful tulips I got from the luncheon I attended Tuesday. They've been brightening up my classroom all week!

6. Attending the district's State of the Schools luncheon Tuesday. Seriously. It was good, and not just because I got to be away from the class for half the day!

7. The Skinny Mocha Latte my wonderful teacher's aide brought me today!

8. The amazing gift of forgiveness my parents instilled in me since I was a child.

9. Rediscovering childhood books and movies with the same wonderment as the first time.

10. Leaving work on time for two days in a row!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Incoherent thoughts that must escape

First, literature:

I love Anne of Green Gables. I forgot how much. I haven't seen it in well over a decade, so I was quite delighted when I went up to Waco and Bird and Brandi recently received it from Netflix. We started it Sat night and then I played the rest of it Sun after church. Even the kids seemed to get into it. I brought one of the books w/ me to work; not that I have ANY time to read. Just sit and day dream. Everyone rants and raves about Mr. Darcy while poor Gilbert Blythe is lost in the depths of literary memory. He's such a good guy, too!

Second, random:

Driving home last night I heard the author of Get Married on KSBJ. She was explaining how women, specifically, need to become proactive in their quest for marriage when they reach the "marrying age." Not to sit and wait for it to happen as we've done for years, but pray and seek out mentors to confide your desire in. To even look to older women/couples to make potential matches. Yeah, I'm not too sure how I feel about all that yet. It sounds a bit . . . desperate? But then again, I'm less than 3 years away from 30 and according to this lady my expiration date has been stamped and will soon draw near!

Finally, God speaks:

Powerful moment in church yesterday. During the sermon over Philippians 3 a man cried out and people started asking for a doctor. He had a seizure which triggered a heart problem. Everyone immediately started praying. Then the worship leader went up and led us in worship. I wept because I know I would want the same for my father. What better place for that to happen than a church where 1,000+ prayers will immediately go up on one's behalf and where the body of Christ will worship for you?

Then, I wept because just two nights before someone I know was sick in prison. Shaking with fever, lying on a concrete floor with only a thin blanket for warmth. Even the tinniest of medication was withheld. Some may say he got what he deserved for breaking the law and deceiving the people who love him. Some may say he deserves worse. But somehow, I don't think that's what Jesus would have said, or what He would have us say.

He who is forgiven much, loves much . . .

Then, I was angry. The people that should have been praying and worshiping on this prisoner's behalf were few and far between. When his sins were confessed there weren't 1,000+ there to pray and worship on his behalf. There weren't 100.

Then, I was assured.

The prayers of a righteous man avail much . . .

One is enough. And one is all you need in the darkest hours of life.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

This is deeply disturbing . . .

This is the response I get from saying I'm faithful, I do well under stress, I hold a momentary grudge, I get along great with my family, I enjoy reading, I'd fight dirty, and I would make the best of things if I was stranded on a desert island???? What's up wit dat?! Maybe it's cause I said I'm a republican . . .

Out of the 4300+ people who have taken the quiz, I'm like 2% of them . . . yipee . . .

Ok, Brandi just took the quiz:

She was happy with her results, of course. She wasn't the one voted most likely to be a manipulative psycho!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I almost forgot!

It's Thankful Thursday! So here we go!

1. Valentine's Day love.

2. The tulips I got from dad. I just basically gave him a car and he bought me tulips. ;o)

3. MY NEW CAR!!! I hope to post pics soon. And write a post about how I need to change my driving philosophy and how I now have street cred w/ my new wheels.

4. This week flew by!

5. Not having to come up with a Black History Program performance for the end of the month. That drops the stress tremendously!

6. Having students and speeches picked out for the Speech Comp I've somehow found myself co-chairing even though I know NOTHING abt Speech Competitions. The fact that the comp is NEXT MONTH stresses me out, though.

7. Hearing about spring training's got me psyched for the start of baseball season.

8. Brand new season/episodes of Jericho & Lost. What more could a girl ask for??? And I must admit that I saw the first eppy of Big Brother but it kinda freaked me out so I don't know if we'll be watching, despite the lack of new prime time shows.

9. David Letterman. I don't watch him often, but when I do I'm amused.

10. I survived the day without even licking the icing off my fingers after dishing out cupcakes. Now that's a miracle!

11. Did I mention I HAVE A NEW CAR?!?!

Ain't it SAD?

Of course I couldn't let Single Awareness Day come and go with no mention of it. I was actually just browsing old posts from February of '05 and '06 and had to laugh at Tirzah and my old V-Day posts (is that grammatically correct?). Of course my fav will always be the SAD survival guide for single girls. It's great! And not that far-fetched, actually.

So I have a confession: I'm actually not a V-Day hater anymore. I don't know if I ever was. Maybe it's easier not to hate it since I'm out of college? Or maybe since I've been teaching my students fill that void with their flowers and cards and chocolates? Or maybe, just maybe, I'm actually content in my singleness??? I dunno.

Receiving gifts is definitely my top love language. Last year I raked in the gifts with my kids! Esp the flowers! Not so much this year. And that's after weeks of me telling my kids how much I love flowers and that's what I wanted for V-Day. I was quite bitter that the mom who works at a FLOWER SHOP bought me a memo cube.

I know, I know, I sound horribly selfish and ungrateful, don't I? Well, the truth is I am horribly selfish and ungrateful at times.

Anywho, I love my kids and I know they love me. They were so excited about the day and making cards for each other. We had a good day. And the best was when my Spanish kids came over to deliver cards they each made for me. One little boy, Alex, I've known since he was 3 and in his card he wrote, "Ms. Gayle, yuo are my favorite tichr." Awww!!! All the cards are cute and I hope to scan and post some. Eventually. Maybe.

Oh, I almost forgot! I did get a bouquet of a dozen red roses . . . torn from the page of an advert! HILARIOUS! And rather witty for the quiet LEP 5-year-old Ashley!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Cookin'

So this Sunday I tried out Jana's Turkey Meatloaf. I only tasted a bit and LOVE IT! I'm saving it for lunch tomorrow. The only variations I made in the recipe was I added half a diced green onion, used the whole egg, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, and I also substituted butter for the Smart Balance (only because the container was almost empty). I made Brussels Sprouts with Garlic to go along (trust me, they're much yummier than they sound!). Here a portion dished out in my Gladware:

Hmm . . . it does look a bit bland dished out like that, but believe me when I say it's DELISH and not as heavy as a traditional meatloaf.

I also made the usual, easy meal: chili. I have no recipe. I just throw it all together and it usually turns out great. This time I put only one type of bean and I added chopped zucchini. It's still rather meaty and spicy, though, and it tastes great!

I wanted to make chicken salad (a recipe I learned from an old college roommate) but I ran out of time. It's already 9:45 and I still have papers to grade. What the heck happened to this weekend?!

It should be a rather easy week, so hopefully I'll have time to make the chicken salad and chicken and black bean soup. Yay!

I must be getting old...

Have they lowered the minimum working age?

Obviously they must have.

Because I swear the kids bagging groceries and handing out baskets at HEB were well below the age of 16.

They must have been 13.

At the most.

Either that or I'm older than I thought.

Naw, it couldn't be that.

Maybe HEB just has some special privilege that allows them to hire child laborers.

Yeah, that must be it . . .

Saturday, February 09, 2008

How Strange!

When I finally made my way downstairs to cook breakfast this morning I decided to whip up a batch of salsa. I pulled an onion from the pantry and coarsely cut it up with no problems. I added all the other ingredients and blended the baby up. It tasted soooo yummy over my eggs. However, as I sat holding the plate and eating in the living room I noticed my eyes starting to water. Then sting. Like when you chop up a particularly potent onion. Somehow, the onion didn't affect me when I peeled and chopped it. It didn't affect me when I added it to the blender and made the salsa. It didn't affect me until 30 minutes after it had been turned into salsa and then poured on my plate. How strange!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thankful Thursdays!

1. God's Grace (I know that was #1 last week, but it's more true this week than it was last!)

2. ABC's Full Episode Player -- in the stress and chaos of this week I forgot - FORGOT - to record Lost!!!!

3. Amazing coworkers who are also dear friends.

4. The most low-stress Family Night EVER. And it was a complete success!

5. Mrs. Robinson's home-grown grapefruits. I just ate the last one. :o( However, I salvaged some seeds and am gonna try to plant them! Suggestions, anyone???

6. Getting to wear my pink Juicy sunglasses again since I have new contacts.

7. Time to finally car shop this weekend. I hope, I hope, I hope . . .

8. My niece, Abigail, turning FOUR. I don't even want to think about how old my nephews are!

9. The fact that February is passing far more quickly than January did.

10. The peeps over at King's Arms said they'll love for me to come over in August! But I still have a visa and other details to work out before I can say I'm going FOR SURE.

11. Romney pulled out of the presidential race! Not that that's something I'm necessarily thankful for. I just found out about it. And I'm completely shocked! So I just had to share . . .

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"I am a dog."

Ok, I need to clarify something. Despite my whining and complaining, and despite my constant state of stress and exhaustion, I don't really hate my job. Sure, we have unrealistic expectations laid on our backs week after week. Yeah, we have to work our rears off to earn every single cent we're paid. And I might as well just stick a bed in the corner of my classroom 'cause it will save time (no commuting) and money (darn high-priced gas). So call me crazy when I say I actually like it. Maybe that's 'cause I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

It's the actual teaching I love. Seeing a child go from not recognizing one letter from another to writing their own sentences within five months. And that's no exaggeration!

Aris, one of my LEP students (Limited English Proficiency), barely knew any letters and sounds back in August. She's quiet and one of those that's easy to overlook in a class full of . . . challenges. But I worked with her as I could and had my aide work with her and, most importantly, her parents at home. She came every Saturday to tutorials and rarely missed school. I worried that still wasn't enough. I knew she got the letters and their sounds down a couple of months ago. And earlier in January she read a beginning reader book to me. That was amazing!

AND THEN, on Friday she brought her journal over to me. She didn't say anything, which is her style, and just pointed at what she had written. I asked her to read it to me. She said, "I. am. a. dog."

"Wow," I replied. "Did you write that?"

She emphatically nodded her head and I just smiled while thinking, Yeah right.

You see, LEP students don't usually write grammatically correct sentences. LEP students don't usually say grammatically correct sentences. Especially SIX YEAR OLD LEP students. Plus, Aris' sentence began with a capital letter, ended with a period, and contained spaces between real words. An unusual occurance for an English-language Kindergartener.

I was excited about Aris' progress but thought maybe it was a fluke. Then, while walking around this morning I saw what she was writing. Again she had the sentence, "I am a dog." Underneath it she wrote, "Ther is a str(star)." And under that she wrote, "I hav a dog." AMAZING!!!!! What's even more amazing is she even had some sentences written in Spanish!

Ok, I'm not sharing this because I think I'm an amazing teacher. Puh-leez! There is sooooooo much I don't know, and I feel like I'm winging it on a near daily basis! But I share this because I don't want to forget it. I want to remember that this is why I'm doing it; this is why I don't just chuck it and quit when the stress gets incredibly unbearable and lonely.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Last night I pulled out John Piper's Hunger for God from my bookshelf. It's been awhile since I've read it so I just thumbed through and scanned the passages I had underlined. One line is still burned in my mind:


Mercy, Lord! Forgive me for seeking satisfaction from other people, from the world and from STUFF. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning! Thank You that I can seek satisfaction in You today, despite not turning to You yesterday.

That's a perfect label for how I've felt lately: unsatisfied. The contentedness that I so prided myself in having just a few months ago has seemed to have slipped away. I'm unsatisfied at work. I'm unsatisfied in my relationships. I'm unsatisfied with my inner self. I'm unsatisfied with what I have. Even that with which I have been blessed, I've taken for granted and become apathetic. Mercy, Lord!

Lamentations 3:21-26

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

So much to say

but the post I had been working on for the past hour was just deleted.

SO, I'll just post the verse I need to meditate on this week:

Psalm 27

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
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