Monday, September 28, 2009

Highlights from The World Of Little People

- Our unit the next two weeks is on dinosaurs. I know NOTHING about dinosaurs. But I can ROAR pretty well and that's all that really matters when you're two.

- Victory from the last week: The Three-Year-Old learned how to remove his own shirt with minimal whining and crying about how he can't do it.

- Only one major injury, to Blondie. She fell on the play car and hit her head on the metal(!!!) steering wheel, leaving an awesome diagonal line bruise down her forehead from hair to eyebrow.

- I now have two biters. The Peanut has joined Stitch in using teeth to communicate.

- Glue sticks do not work with two-year-olds. Glue with paintbrushes does.

- It is possible for a child to talk for 2.5 hours when they should be taking their nap instead. Even if you take away their book and their shoes, they will still talk and not fall asleep.

- There is absolutely no way to use the water table in class without requiring a 20 minute mop-up with paper towels afterward.

- Pull-ups with designs that disappear when you pee are such a bad idea. How fun is it to make those little hearts disappear by peeing! I seriously think they are slowing down our pottying progress!

- It is also fun to pour your milk on the ground if your teacher will make you clean it up afterwards. Consequently, this child is not allowed to clean up his spilt milk... which I worry is setting him up for all sorts of character problems.

- It's fun to have the most flowery hats and bonnets, and sparkly purses, in the dress-up corner. Two-year-old little boys will think they are adventure hats and bags and will wear them to drive the play-car. And that is just awesome.

- No matter how frustrating a child is or how much they cry or disobey all day, when they run up to you and give you a hug, it is still all worth it.

- Two-year-olds can learn Scripture! Our class verse is Eph 4:32a: "Be kind and compassionate to one another." We talk about it almost every day, and when I see examples of the verse being used or not being used. I don't know how deeply they understand it yet, but I can ask questions like "Is hitting someone a kind thing to do?" "How about sharing a toy?" and they respond "Yesssss" or "Noooooo". The older ones can even give me examples of kindness. And I asked my YOUNGEST one "What does Eph 4:32 say?" when she was having trouble being kind, and she responded "Be kind and PASSIONATE!" Good enough for me... God's word is starting to sink into her little heart! This is why I teach!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Season of Waiting

Wow. Where did this week go? It was one of those weeks that seems to drag on, but then at the end I don't really remember much of it.
Monday we all got to have a 2 hour training after work... 10 straight hours at work sets the tone for a long week. That meant I didn't get to go grocery shopping til Tuesday, which made Tuesday a long day also! Thursday I baked my once-every-two-weeks double batch of cookies, to fill the cookie jar and boost the freezer reserves. Double Chocolate cookies this week... they are really soft and taste like brownies. Mmmm. Friday I got out of work an hour early and we got Italian Ice (at Ritas, where I will take every person that comes to visit us!) and checked out a local book store (named Carpe Librum, how awesome is that?). This weekend I've been catching up on much needed small projects.

But quite honestly, it's been a hard week. I've really been feeling lonely all week. That is the one really hard thing about the move to Knoxville. I love it here, love the landscape and the architecture and the culture and the weather and the friendly people, but I have yet to make FRIENDS. It's hard because Scott has automatic buddies in his physics group, but I don't have something like that. Yes, I have work, but there are only 3 other teachers at my school and we don't interact much since we are soo busy in our own little classrooms. 2 of them are significantly older than me, and they are nice but not people I can see as my life-long friends.

I am fairly introverted and not great at making friends immediately. Our apartment complex isn't really social (there's no central meeting place everyone hangs out except the pool, and it's past the season for that). I didn't really have any activities to meet people. I've started going to a crocheting circle so I'm starting to meet people but I've only gone twice so far. I don't really know what other things to go to... I'm looking at more crochet meetings and book clubs or classes, but I haven't tried anything yet. I'm just now getting to the point where I feel settled into the apartment and routine so I have time to do things. We hadn't settled on a church (but I think we have as of today!), but I would like to make friends at whatever church we end up going to.

So I have hope that I will be making friends, and I am committed to put myself in at least one situation each week where I will meet people, and to take initiative in making friends there. But for now... it's hard. Scott gets to go out with his friends on Friday nights (which I am so happy for him!) but I long for the day when I will have friends to go out with too! I am trying to trust in God, because I know His timing to provide friends will be perfect... and I know I am learning to lean more on Him through my lonliness. But I would love some good girlfriends to do life with! I miss all of my friends from San Diego and LA!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Photo of The Day-- Bringin' In The Harvest

One of the things that attracted me most to our apartment when we were looking at it was that the leasing woman offhandedly said "Yeah, do whatever you want to it... you can garden if you want." Later I asked her if she meant I could tear up plants, and she confirmed. So, despite the fact that we had absolutely no furniture our first two weeks of living here, I tore up a small patch of STUBBORN ground cover. I probably worked for five or six hours to clear 6 by 12 inch patch I have. I planted some carrots and basil. Today I noticed one basil plant was about 6 inches tall, which means it was time to harvest. I got about six medium leaves off of it, and used them in my stuffed zucchini... they tasted so amazing!! Here is the pride of my crop, right before the pluckin'. (Not the best picture, but my camera was getting rained on!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Photo of The Day-- First Ever Grown-Up Decorating?

I've been inspired recently. I'm reading through the archives of Pleasant View Schoolhouse. It's a wonderful blog. The author is amazing at all things domestic... sewing, baking, cooking, decorating, knitting, and other such lovelies. I am just starting to come into my own domestically. We are still at the stage where we don't have a couch or bookshelves, and store our books on the floor. We don't really have the money to do up our tiny apartment in fancy decorations. But reading this blog has inspired me to do a little bit with the little I have. I have really never decorated before, besides putting up posters in college. I never got to the decorating stage in LA. But I'm determined to bring a bit of beauty to our modest home here.

A bag of lovely pumpkin scented pinecones and berries at AC Moore for $2.99, a repurposed vase with beautiful curves, and an autumnal dinner napkin for some more color. I can't decide if I like it more with or without the napkin. Thoughts? Ideally I'd have a runner for the dresser, but... it's all about making do.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Living in the Bible Belt

Admittedly, there have been fewer major differences between living in Knoxville and San Diego than I pictured (the majority of people here drive cars, and not tractors, down the street... despite what I had imagined).

Some of the more foreign feeling things have come from the fact that this is the Bible Belt. It's strange... it's not so much that all of the people here are church-goers. A larger percentage of the population than I had expected do not go to church. It is more that the culture is different.

- You know how many Spanish radio stations there are in Southern California, on both AM and FM? Well, it's like that here with Christian radio stations. It seems like every other address is gospel music, modern Christian music, Bible verses, sermons, etc etc.

- At the UT football game... they prayed before the game. It was part of the opening ceremonies, just like the anthem. It wasn't a super generic prayer either; it was a pretty Christian specific prayer.

- Grocery stores and convenience stores don't sell liquor, only beer. You have to go to a liquor store for spirits. And... they're not open on Sundays. Hmph. Margarita Sunday was thwarted.

- There is a mile stretch on the main road through town, and I think at least 3/4 of the buildings are churches. There are SO MANY CHURCHES in Knoxville. Seriously. I can probably think of 4 times as many churches in Knoxville than Encinitas. I don't know who is going to all of these churches, but there they are. Mainly Baptist and Methodist... I can't think of a Baptist church in SoCal.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Photo Of The Day-- Holy Cow, the Orange!

More than 102,000 people in attendance at Saturday's game. In the ninth largest stadium in the WORLD.
If you have never lived in the South, I don't think you can comprehend the football mania.

See that little patch of blue on the far right side of the stadium? That was cool... there was another one up on our level, just out of the picture on the right. They were LOUD. Sad that we weren't with the Bruin fans, but we got to rep in our section.

Tennessee is OBSESSED with the Vols.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Picture Of The Day-- I Made Mittens!

So, I don't like the pattern I used very much-- I think they are shaped more like oven mitts than actual mittens. But, it's the most complex thing I've ever crocheted, and I think they turned out alright. I've never owned mittens before!

It's amazing to think that in just a few weeks, it will start getting cold. So far, the high has been above 80 every day, and it has not dropped below 60 at night. I've never lived somewhere cold before and I am so so so excited for seasons. I'm secretly (or not so secretly) hoping for an extreme winter... there was a blizzard in '93 and I'd love to have another one this year. The lady who led our horse expedition said that a lot of the nature signs were pointing toward a cold winter, and I couldn't be more excited! I can't wait to start putting extra blankets on the bed, brewing hot tea nightly, wearing coats and scarves, and smelling fall in the air!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Photo Of The Day-- John and Beth!

John and Beth led Navs at UCLA Scott's freshman year and blessed him a lot. They've since moved to Texas, but we got to see them for a few minutes before the game. It wasn't long enough, but it was great to see their smiling faces. John, sadly, was disappointed by the UT loss (a few years at UCLA apparently wasn't enough to switch his loyalties to the side of light and beauty).

It was a great start to an awesome day... BRUIN VICTORY.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Photo of The Day-- GO BRUINS

In honor of tomorrow's showdown, I have pulled a photo from one of our last days in LA (I mean, obviously this is not Knoxville....) This is one of my favorite views in the world. The beach isn't as good as San Diego, but Santa Monica is full of memories.

Tomorrow is the big game (for us)... UT versus UCLA. We will be going in our UCLA Den shirts! Two little powder blue dots in a massive sea of orange.

The highlight of my day: I was walking in downtown after work and I saw the three buses full of the UCLA players. As they were driving away, I got to point at the Den shirt I was wearing and give them the thumbs up. I'm sure I looked like a dork, but I got some thumbs-up back!

GO BRUINS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Photo of The Day-- Sept 10

Thursday nights I'm by myself, so I took the quiet evening to cook, bake and do laundry.It was nice and rainy- a perfect night to be domestic. I made homemade refried beans (not bad), and a double batch of snickerdoodles. I baked one batch, and froze the other one for a later date. I love being able to fill the cookie jar to surprise Scott when he gets home :-) Total count: 40 baked cookies (5 didn't make it into the pictures, but they were delicious), and 22 cookies going into the freezer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Photo of The Day-- Sept 9

Crazy town...

University of Tennessee football is THE thing here. For the entire state. It is a craze. Bigger than any sports patriotism I've ever witnessed, for any team, at any time.

We were out of town last Saturday for the opening game, but we got to witness some of the fervor the day before. As we were driving home from work at 4 in the afternoon on Friday, people were starting to camp for the big game. Notice the three motor homes... camping... at the SHELL STATION? I have no idea what is going on. Why are these people here 24 hours before the game? Why are they camping at the gas station, in an apparently roped-off designated camping area? The world may never know.

But I do know this: this whole city bleeds orange and white. And we're going to the game on Saturday. In UCLA shirts. GULP.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Photo of The Day-- Sept 8

I got a birthday package in the mail from my lovely in-laws!! My mother-in-law is an Apron Maker Extraordinaire, and this HAPPENS to be the cutest apron that she's ever made!! I think I smiled for half an hour after I opened the package, and then I rushed to make dinner and asked Scott to take pictures! It is SOOOO well made, and it makes me dream of being in a condo by the beach, cooking a summery meal. THANK YOU LORI!!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Photo of The Day-- Sept 7

We had a long wait for the fireworks yesterday. By 2 PM, people were camping out in their spots. We finally staked a space along the river at 7, giving us 2.5 hours to chat. I played around with the features on my camera and found the feature that will let you select a color, and every color except for that color is in black and white. The sky was a beautiful dusky blue, and I liked how this shot of the bridge turned out. I wish it was a bit sharper, but I didn't have anything to use as a tripod and the light was low. And I wish it was well-framed, but I couldn't move through the seas of people around me. Still, pretty fun :-) I'm excited to mess around with this feature more!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Photo of The Day-- Sept 6

Boomsday Festival, the largest Labor Day fireworks display in the nation (ok, not too many people do fireworks for Labor Day, but still).

It was IMPRESSIVE. Tied with Disneyland for best fireworks show I've seen. Twenty minutes long, totally coordinated to the (awesome) music. They shot the fireworks from the main bridge over the river, so it was a beautiful location. The show included a sparkly waterfall of fireworks into the river, and some blasts being shot off from the water. Classic music such as The Eagles, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, "Rocky Top" (sort of our Tennessee patriotic song), and "I Can Only Imagine."

Tennessee loves its festivals!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Photo of The Day-- Sept 5

One of the best birthday presents ever-- Scott booked us for a Saturday horseback ride. We got to help brush the horses and get them ready to ride, then we rode from 10-2, ate lunch, and rode from 3-5. Then we got to feed the horses and clean them after the ride. It was with a really nice lady who runs a B&B and does trail rides, and we were the only two people on the ride. We learned about native flora and fauna, saw ruins of old cabins, and got to see the hills of Tennessee up close. Since I've ridden before, I got an adventurous (aka finnicky) horse. She tried to buck me off three times! I didn't die, or even fall off! All in all a fantastic, wonderful day!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Orange Chicken

Now that I'm finally restocking our kitchen with the basics for cooking (slow going on a small grocery budget!), I'm getting to cook fun meals again. I've been wanting to try this recipe for a while, and I finally did on Tuesday night!

It is yummy orange chicken... I could tell the difference from Panda Express, but not much! I'd say it was just as good. Of course, it's fried so it's not health food, but it's probably healthier than Panda... I didn't dump any MSG in it or anything :-D I think next time I'd make a bit more sauce, and stirfry some onions, pineapple, and bell pepper. It was delicious with white rice. You should try this sometime. I halved the recipe for two of us, it made a bit more than enough, and it didn't take too much time!

Panda-Style Orange Chicken:

Photo Of The Day

Monday - Wednesday, Scott is done with work an hour and a half after I am. So I walk across the street from my work (the gorgeous church in the back ground) to World's Fair Park while I wait for him. I sit up on the hill above this fountain and I read my Bible and pray and journal and usually nap. It's one of my favorite times of day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

One of Those Moments

I usually love my job... but really.

Yesterday was a decently calm morning. Until...

There's one girl in my class who doesn't really talk, besides one word here and there (but somehow she still manages to be loud). We'll call her Blondie. Well, she's potty-training and she started to say "paah-eee... PAAH-EEEEE" which I have learned by now means she wants to put her training to practice. Well, the three-year-old class was using our adjoining bathroom at the moment, so her shrieks became louder and louder. After hurrying several playful three-year-olds through their pottying routine, I stood her at the doorway to the bathroom and yanked down her shorts and Pull-up. Now, usually I would check contents of said Pull-up before pulling it down, but I was just trying to get her to her target destination. Bad idea. Poop exploded all over the floor. And her leg. And pants.

But 4.2 seconds before this happened, a kid's mother walked in carrying him and happened to stand right next to where I was kneeling down. So she just stood there watching me while I had a heart attack over the Great Explosion.

So while I scrambled for paper towels and bleach, and stuck Blondie on the toilet, and tried to keep curious kids from entering the bathroom, and Artsy Mom stood right in my path, I heard shrieking from the other corner of the classroom. SHU-RIEK-ING. The smallest girl in my class had chosen this opportune moment to tormet the only three-year-old. Classic David and Goliath, except David is a teensy pink-dress-wearing ball of fire. For some reason, she was yelling "NO" to Three-Year-Old, which apparently made him so angry that he was howling, screaming, yelling, basically having conniptions and dying AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS in the other corner of my classroom. Which Peanut thought was so funny that she'd do it again (hey, I guess I'm trying to teach them about cause and effect and she's got it down pat).

Why do parents choose to walk in at these moments? And stand there helpless? Oh yeah, because they have one two-year-old. And I have seven.

I don't ever want septuplets, thanks.

Oh, and then we ate breakfast.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pedestrian Danger

I was on a run today, and I was pondering how decidedly non-hickish Knoxville has turned out to be.

Then I realized... there are seriously NO sidewalks in this city.

I'm running on tiny residential streets, lined with trees, and no sidewalks, waving at people riding their riding mowers through their lawns.

Ok, it's a tiny bit country, but I love this place.