Random Ramblings

The first quarter of school is already behind us. It’s been fun so far and I’m continuously learning to be a better teacher. Students took their midterm exam and I was pleased that everyone actually did really well! 

Here’s one of my favorite stories one of my Freshmen wrote (about a girl who wants to speak English, comes to see me and is sad because I won’t speak English. I must speak French): 

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Here’s a picture of the morning sunrise. Now that we are in the month of October, the sun is at the horizon on the way to work and on the way home. 

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I took a survey on how everyone is doing in class and what I could improve. Here’s my favorite answer to the question: What are your strengths? 

“I believe my ability to barely stay awake while still understanding everything you say is one of my strengths.”

This weekend we went to Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista, Colorado for the 2013 Coram Deo retreat with DSM student ministries. It was wonderful to be up in the mountains. I even saw my second bear! Whoot whoot!

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Love, 

 

Ev

The Truth about Blogging …

… ain’t nobody got time for that. That’s my truth. Seeing that this is my third time starting a blog and it’s been … let’s see… more than 3 months since I’ve posted anything I should obviously stick to teaching and not make this a job. But the thing is, I like writing out what I think. There are two types of blogs I enjoy reading: the teacher kind (where teachers share all the methods they are using in their classrooms and, by doing so, make you feel absolutely inadequate because you are not able to manage 6 different classes, homework, grading, Student Council, detention and traffic duties, club sponsoring and after-school tutoring while maintaining a household AND fabulous blog) and the satirical kind (this one in particular made me shed tears – Surviving Whole Foods -). 

That leaves me to think; which one do I want to be? Considering English is my second language, it’s quite difficult to be “funny” when you are constantly switching tabs between Google, Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com. 
So then, how about the teacher one… Well, to be honest, I’m not even sure that I know what I’m doing, let alone that I would know enough to write an entire blog post about it. But maybe, just maybe, I know enough of both of them to combine them into a satirical classroom blog. So there’s my goal. Try to remember stuff students say and write something funny/heartwarming about it. So I’ll leave you with this… 

My lovely husband and his loyal friend assisted me today in setting up a classroom restaurant setting with the Notre Dame in the background, table cloths on tables and strings of lights draped around the whiteboards. Last night, I slaved for about 2 hours over 50 crepes (something I do for each new incoming Freshmen class) and served it to them proudly during class today. My husband, playing the piano, and his friend, picking away on his guitar strings, provided the students with some smooth jazz and an occasional “Tale as old as time….”. (You should have seen their faces as they came in.) 

A student who is retaking my class for more success this year (and also had crepes last year with me) noted: “Wow, Miss, you’ve really outdone yourself this time.” “Thanks, bud.” They also cared to mention earlier in the year: “You’ve gotten a lot better already.” Heartwarming, right? Now since I stepped it up a notch this year, the occasional juniors/seniors who happened to walk by got a tad bit… how should I put it … hurt. Throwing the why’s and how’s in my face, how could I do this to them? I don’t even know these Freshmen and I taught them for three years. What did they do to deserve this? Why didn’t Nico play them songs? And so on, and so forth… It drove them so far as to come in and throw a bunch of notecards on my desk with the (unsaid) message: read it and weep! Aren’t they precious??!! They even lovingly found my phone, decided to change my background to a beautiful picture of them and assign me a password to sign in to my phone (props to them for figuring out my phone in French). 

I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to pay more attention to who they are as people, not just as students. After two years of teaching the now juniors and seniors, they are feeling comfortable enough to let me in on who they really are.. and for that I’m grateful. 

Enjoy, 

 

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Happy Friday 🙂 

What Behaviors does Marriage Bring out in You?

What qualities does marriage bring out in you? What behaviors are much more intensified after you got married? Are they positive or negative ones? Take some time to think through this. Of course it’s much easier to pick out the negative ones rather than the positive ones but they are so important. 

Here are two of mine:

1. I love to cook! 

So this quality is very new to me. I never cooked. When I lived on my own I would make stuff. You know, throw some things together like pasta or heat up something that was already cooked. I would never cook or bake just for my own pleasure. Now, on the other hand, I love to try new things. I find peace in cooking and I’m a bit OCD in this area – I can’t cook in a messy kitchen. I can’t even really eat my food if the dishes are still in the sink. I try my best to clean as I go.

2. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Controlling Behavior 

Ok, so I’ll be honest. This has got to be my number struggle at the moment and the most difficult one. I used to see these two (strangely enough) as my strengths: I get things done, I finish whatever I set my mind to and it’s going to be done perfectly. Nowadays, these qualities seem to be my downfall. I like to pride myself in being neat, organized and clean. Boy, is it hard to let some of these things go. When I come home after work, my first instinct is to start picking up things and clean the house. I can’t seem to function in a messy house… I can’t even relax (this is the OCD side of me). Then, everything has its place and needs to be in that place (sad, I know) but it makes me feel at ease and I am able to function much better later on. So when my wonderful husband wants me to come sit down on the couch and relax, my mind spins a million different ways: I should change the water of the flowers, I have to unload the dishwasher, I have to make sure to put away the laundry, the toilet should be cleaned because we are going to have people over, what’s for dinner? The list pretty much goes on and on. This is where Nico brings me balance. He makes me stop, breathe, and not think (it’s so hard!). I can find peace in the midst of clutter and mess – and I have to learn to be okay with that. 

 

 

HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR FRIDGE IN 3 EASY STEPS

Procrastinating from my school work, here’s week 2 of the ‘no-sugar’ lifestyle. I thought that giving up this sugar thing would be a breeze. I was hopelessly wrong. May just seems NOT the month to do it. Who knew that teacher appreciation week was in May?! It crept up on me for sure. Monday they gave out freshly made chocolate chip cookies. Luckily, teenagers will always take what you don’t want. The whole week we were lavished on with sweets, caramel coffee, pies, cookies and all those good things. I bravely said no and went for the couple strawberries and clementine mandarins. My husband also celebrated his birthday this past week and we had a coupon to a fondue place here in town. We SKIPPED the chocolate fondue. Said NO to chocolate!! Who are we?!?! I guess it’s not all that hard to say no to sugar. Determination is key. 

Now to the reason for this post: organization! 

AH, the word alone brings peace to my heart. I absolutely love when things are organized. Last week the husband went on a little trip and I took the liberty of organizing our entire place. I went to a thrift shop down the street and bought a couple (really cheap) baskets to organize my things. 

Here’s exhibit A. You know those clutter drawers we all have… Yeah, I got really tired of this one. 

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I found this desk drawer organizer for less than $2 and put it to good use. I’m still pleasantly surprised when I pull this drawer open. Organization is a gift that keeps on giving! Hah! 

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And here’s drawer #2

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I think these little baskets were 50cents each. 
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Now, my biggest accomplishment of the weekend was definitely the fridge. We had all this stuff in it, which really wasn’t that much food. Just the way it was organized (or obviously NOT organized) made it impossible to find anything. I got to a point where I just ate cereal the whole time because I got too stressed opening the fridge. Here’s what it looked like before: 

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I was determined to get this done quickly, so here are 3 quick steps to organizing your fridge.

1. Start with one shelf/unit at a time.
I started with the door. I put a giant clean towel on the floor ,right by the fridge, and grabbed a trash bag. Then I took all the condiments and food out of the door and put it on the towel.

2. Throw away what’s expired. Put aside what you won’t eat.
I looked through each item to see if it was still good and if we really used it or not. The expired items went in the trash bag, the ‘ok’ items stayed on the towel and the ‘we-won’t-use-this’ item was placed on the counter. I quickly cleaned all the shelves of the door and then put the condiments back. This time in an organized manner. The door now contains drinks, condiments such as ketchup, ranch, spreads, etc., and butter. That’s basically it. Apparently it’s NOT good to keep your eggs and milk in the door so I found a different place for those. 

3. Have a designated place for everything 
I saw the idea on Pinterest to take out one of the top shelves. This way, the milk carton actually fits inside the fridge where the temperature change is less sudden than in the door. I decided to put fruits, snacks and quick breakfast things on that shelf with the milk. The stuff that lasts longer, like pickles and canned goods went in the back on the top shelf. The eggs also found a place on the middle shelf for the same ‘temperature’ reason. The basket is used for all cheeses and deli meat. And the bottom shelf contains leftovers or bigger tubs and packets. 

I also cleaned out the fruit and vegetable trays and put a paper towel on the bottom of these. I took the fruit out of all the little baggies that they give you at the supermarket and placed them right against the edge of the basket (the picture is a bit dark, so you might not be able to see it). Now I can actually see what fruits/vegetables are left and need to be used. (We got some apples, pears and clementines on one side and avocados, limes and peppers on the other). 

And here’s the finished product: 

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Now I can actually see what we have and food doesn’t go bad. Less IS actually more.  

Oh, and while I was at it, I decided to put all my plastic bags in this tube that we had. I rolled them into little balls and squished them in there. It freed up a TON of room in the closet. 

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How do you stay organized? 

 

P.S.: I took the food that we weren’t going to eat with me the next day, not knowing what to do with it, thinking I would just leave it at my in-laws. I happened upon a traveling girl with her dogs asking for ‘anything [that] would help’ at a traffic light and just gave her all the food. She was happy and I felt good. Win-win. 

Just a spoonful of sugar… NOPE!

Aah, we have made it through week 1 of our healthier lifestyle. (Read my last post to get up to date.) We have been eating more often, smaller portions and substituting nuts, fruits and vegetables for our cookies, fries, etc. Nico has lost a good 5 lbs. so far! In a week! I, personally, have also eliminated ‘added sugars’ from my menu – thanks to my friend who inspired me. ‘Added sugars’ means that sugar cannot be part of any of the first three ingredients listed on a product. You have to look at the list of ingredients – not the nutritional values chart (almost every product can somewhere along the line contain some natural sugars).

Day 1 of the “no-sugar-challenge” was rather…challenging. My students had brought in chocolate glazed donuts. Yes, chocolate AND donuts in one. When I kindly rejected their offer I was immediately bombarded with what’s and why’s and how come’s. I quickly brushed it off saying I was on this ‘no-sugar’ thing. I got many strange stares and a couple “You don’t need to lose weight”s. Considering I’ve only lost half a pound so far, that’s obviously not the reason I’m doing it.

That night, my lovely husband said he had some leftovers from going out to lunch: sesame chicken with rice. I quickly pulled all our Asian condiments out of the pantry only to find out that each one of them contains sugar/fructose as its first ingredient. Yeah, not even second or third, but first! Needless to say, I made him eat it all (probably not the smartest move) but I didn’t want to be tempted any of the following days.

Then yesterday, after school, another student walked into my classroom asking me if I wanted a brownie. A brownie!? Come on! Before I started this thing, the last sugary thing I had was a GIANT and I mean GINORMOUS brownie. A student, who was sitting in my room, working on some missing assignments, quickly jumped to my aid and said: “She can’t, man. She’s on a sugar diet.” Phew…

I don’t really have any cravings, which is probably due to the fact that I eat quite an amount of naturally sugared fruits (mainly bananas). We also don’t eat out that often, and when we do we split a meal. I think Chipotle is a great option for eating out – fresh and organic produce. This week, my goal will be to continue, implement workouts and make some snacks/breakfasts/lunches ahead for the week. I just made these beauties (sugar-free):

IMG_0109Click here for the recipe (you have to scroll down quite a bit). Make sure to substitute plain Greek yoghurt with a teaspoon of baking powder for the sour cream that’s used and, obviously, don’t use the chocolate! I substituted walnuts for the chocolate and quick oats for the raw oats. I like quick oats better because they are smaller in size.

I would love to hear your ideas on how to make lunch or breakfast ahead of time.

“Gaining a spouse = Gaining weight” No, thank you.

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For an organic and healthy eating-out option, Adam’s Mountain Cafe is a fabulous restaurant. You won’t regret it!

What’s healthy, clean eating? How do you define it? Which diet is the best? Or should it be a lifestyle instead of a diet?

Nowadays there are so many “diets” out there, it’s hard to figure out what’s really the best one. A friend of mine challenged me to start a ‘no-sugar’ month; just to feel healthier and more energetic. We start on Wednesday and for that reason I devoured a giant, rich, chocolatey-gooey -with extra chocolate chips on top- brownie at lunch today (and by giant I mean almost twice the size of my fist). Something I regretted immediately after I finished the last bite. Ouch.

Nico and I don’t drink any soda and aren’t big on cookies and sweets but I absolutely love ice cream and ice cream shakes! Every time I finish a meal, I think to myself; “Mmm, some ice cream would be great right now”. Honestly, you can ask Nico, every….single…meal.

So back to the no-sugar thing. It shouldn’t be too hard, considering we don’t consume that much sugar to begin with. We will stick to the ‘no sugar in the first three ingredients list’ rule, and that includes fructose, syrup and all those other sugary goodness. I’m reading every label on every product we have. There is sugar in almost everything (try looking at all the sauces and dressings you have in your fridge and pantry)!

Since Summer is almost here, we are going to try to come up with an exercise routine. We don’t want to let the statistic of gaining 20lbs. in our first year of marriage become a fact, so we will try to do the opposite. Here’s how:

– eating 6 smaller portions of meals a day
– exercising (cardio) 20-30 min. a day
– limiting sugar (I don’t believe in eliminating a food completely – that will just make you binge on it later)
– eating more fruits/vegetables and less carbs
– enjoying food and putting effort into making it
– eating out maybe once or twice a month.

(Not knowing about the ‘no-sugar’ deal, I already made reservations to the Mona Lisa for Nico’s birthday. We’ll enjoy it :))

We’ll see how this goes and post updates on a weekly basis.

What tips do you have for us?