Wednesday, November 29, 2006



I took these pictures with my laptop at school on Monday. The kid went CRAZY with the snow, especially after a five-day break.

And then yesterday was a snow day! So, no school/work for Michael and I. Instead, we had FANTASY BREAKFAST. It's a tradition we started with a couple friends. First, we had FANTASY CHICKEN BURGER night. We thought of every topping we could ever want on a chicken burger, and had those available. Then, yesterday, we made a ton of different breakfast foods and ate! The menu included french toast with strawberry butter, cinnamon rolls, lemon scones, hashbrowns, biscuits with sausage gravy, eggs and sausage, and orange juice. It was so good!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Call me Crocker. Betty Crocker.

Today I baked the following:

Sour Cream Peach Pie

Iced Lemon Scones
Chocolate chip and white chocolate Scones

and a lemon meringue pie!

Yum Yum!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Turkey Gravy Mishap

Last weekend one of my high school friends and I decided to have a big Pre-Thanksgiving dinner and invite all our close friends from high school. Yes, I am one of those rare breeds who still talk to and even keep in close contact with many of my high school friends. It helps that I'm living in the same town, but I have kept in touch with many of them since graduation.

Anyway, neither of us had ever cooked a Turkey, and we wanted to try it. We were worried that prepping the bird was going to be a long process, but we were pleasantly surprised when it didn't take very long. That turkey neck is one ugly piece of giblet! Because we thought it would take a while we had opted out of stuffing the bird with bread stuffing. Instead, we just put in cut up carrots, celery, and green onions for flavor.

Fast Forward three hours.

After we took the bird out, I was going to make the gravy. My friend had bought a new baster and for some reason it was not working very well. Once I took the cleaning brush out it worked much, much better. I put all these turkey "juices" into a pot, along with the veggies that had been cooked inside the bird. After boiling this my next job was to strain the vegetables out of the gravy.

Disclaimer: When I think of straining something, I picture straining macaroni or spaghetti, where the object is to get rid of the liquid and keep the solids.

So, I got the strainer set in the sink, (with two of my friends standing there watching), and proceeded to dump the pot into the strainer. Suddenly, I heard the sound of a liquid going down the garbage disposal, and I screamed, "NO!!!" OOPS! I forgot to put something to catch the gravy and instead dumped it down the drain.

Fortunately, Michael was already at the store buying milk for the mashed potatoes, so I called him (trying to decide if I should laugh or cry) and asked him to pick up some gravy packets.

For the rest of the night everyone gave me a hard time, such as, "hey Melissa, can you get me some pumpkin pie, as long as you don't strain it!"

Monday, November 20, 2006

35 Days Until Christmas!!!!!!!

It's true. I counted.

I pulled out my Christmas decorations yesterday, to the "silent protest" of my husband (his words). As I put up my nativity scene and sang to my Christmas CD's, I was reminded of how much I love this time of year.

Yes, I have heard of those grinches out there who believe Christmas music (and all the decorations and hoop-la that goes with it) should be limited to a tight After-Thanksgiving-Until-Christmas Day schedule, but I couldn't disagree more.

I walked into Starbucks the other day and my mood changed. I was happy and cheery. Yes, partly it was the peppermint mocha I bought, but I had to buy it, to match the festive decor of the store. (No need to point out that yes, I am a sucker for this type of advertisement). Those decorations and all the Christmas happiness and joy that comes with the season is what put me in a great mood. That, along with the realization that another Christmas is almost here. My 3rd Christmas as MRS. Santa. :)

And of course, as I put up my decorations (scant as they may be), I had to acknowledge that Christmas is sooo over-commercialized. But I don't care, because I know the real meaning of Christmas, and I'm so excited it's just around the corner!!

Ready or not people...CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


After some up and down feelings about my lesson plans over the last week, today was a great day!

I felt like my students were really engaged and focused and learning.

After the period was over I actually remember thinking, "that was a lot of fun." I really enjoyed helping kids today, seeing them understand what they are studying and making connections.

I gave my students a homework assignment last week to interview someone at a home, a parent or other person, and find out about their ancestry. We are doing a unit on immigration and I thought it would be interesting for them to find out about their own family's history. Well, today I was reading the assignments that were turned in and I almost cried (out of excitement that they LIKED the assignment)! Many actually wrote that they had never asked their parent about any of it before, and had learned a lot about their parents as a result. There are quite a few students in my class whose parents immigrated here from Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Mexico, all within the last twenty years. One girl wrote about how her mom was illegal for a while but recently became legal.

Later in the day I saw a student who had been absent during my class (she said she had to go to court, again) and told her she could come by after school and work on her project if she wanted. Well, she did. I had been worried that she was falling behind, because she had missed class and is usually a little behind even when she is in class. It was SO rewarding to work with her, to see all the work she had done, and, to top it off, I asked her what she thought about this assignment, and she started rattling off all the things she's learned about Japanese-American immigrants (her assigned research topic). It was so great! Sometimes I think teachers start to wonder if students are really learning anything. So, today was a big boost that reminded me why I want to teach.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Just an update

Yesterday's election was the first that I had ever voted in. I don't really have a good reason why I hadn't before then, because I do see that it's very important. And, as a social studies teacher I think I definitely should be aware of politics, etc. Last night I found myself anxious to find out the results, to both elections and ballot measures. I've truly entered adulthood.

On another note, today I taught my second lesson. My professor from school also came to observe me. I felt like the whole thing sort of flopped. I'm sure for the most part it was ok, but there were a few glitches in the morning that caused some temporary chaos. But I am learning a lot, and that's the point, or so they keep telling me. Either way, I'm 1/3 done with my teaching here.

Michael and I have completely opposite schedules. He is gone three nights a week, and I am gone when he is at home. I find myself coming home, watching Oprah, reading the newspaper, catching up on email and blogs, and just laying low all night. I need to get motivated and go work out or something, but I just feel so tired most of the time. Today's teaching wore me out! I felt so exhausted after that period, I was really surprised.

Only four more lessons!

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's Official!! #2

Today our team was officially accepted to run the Hood to Coast relay next August.

This is Michael and my Christmas present to each other. We signed up about a month ago with a random group of friends who asked us to run. Only 1000 teams are chosen by random drawing, so we weren't sure if we were one of those lucky teams until today.

We ran our first "training" run a couple weeks ago, and haven't gone again since. We realized we wouldn't be as motivated to train until it was official, and now it is.

I read somewhere that you shouldn't being training for a marathon (which is different from this, I know) until you have worked up to 15-20 miles per week. I would say that our first goal is to run this, but in reality my first goal is to run any length at all each week.

As we all learned in "What about Bob?": Baby steps, baby steps.

It's Official!!

Today I taught my first full-length lesson plan.

And I survived!

I was really nervous last night and this morning, but during it and afterwards I was loving it. I've been observing classrooms for the last few months and have been really antsy to get into the classroom. For the most part it went well. There are a few things I would do differently. But, overall, my students seemed really engaged. I was happy about that because I haven't seen this class do much beyond research on the internet and give speeches to each other. So I had no idea how they would respond to me up front teaching. But they seemed interested.

I gave them a pre-test and was able to see they have a lot of room for improvement. :)

The topic for the next few weeks: US geography and Immigration. Woo hoo!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Michael finally got paid for the first time since we moved to Salem, over two months ago.

So, last night Michael and I had to redo our budget. And we concluded that it is the pits to not have money. We aspire to live simply, but there are basic needs! Money is such a source of stress and tension between people. Have you ever borrowed money from someone and forgot to pay them back? Or worse, have you ever lent money to someone and never got paid back? And you didn't want to bring it up for fear of being seen as stingy?

Yeah, money stinks.

But money also talks, and we really can't do too much without some form of it. And steady streams (or trickles) of it helps.

Today I got home from my student teaching school to find Michael at home. Normally this is a pleasant experience, and it was, but I was also confused. He was supposed to be in Newberg at his other job. He told me that the car broke down on the highway on the way to his job. Not just broke down, flat out broke, as in it's not worth fixing the axle that completely broke into two.

I surprised myself at how calm I was. He was upset, mostly frustrated and worried about money. We sat down and tried to talk about it. Michael was also trying to decide if he should still head to Newberg, because he had registered to take a 3-week class on Preparation for the GRE, and it started tonight. He was debating going because of the money, but more importantly because he has still been unsure if he should take the GREs, or even go to grad school next year. And I suddenly realized that we needed to stop relying on ourselves, something we do often.

So I prayed. I prayed for peace and guidance and thanked God for all the ways He's provided for us lately: scholarship, Michael finding two jobs, etc.

And a few minutes later Michael suddenly realized he had to go to Newberg to get his computer, and he also went to the GRE class. God had answered my prayer, literally, only a few minutes later.

God is good, even when our car breaks, or our dryer breaks, or surprise bills arise.