Lessons from the Zoo 

Opportunistic eaters – king snakes – according to the zoo expert that is speaking to our middle-schoolers right now.

I think that applies to teachers too – many of us skip breakfast but we all headed for the meeting room when we found out the Beta club brought us breakfast this morning.

She’s now discussing the difference between poisonous and venomous. That may bring about a completely different analogy for teaching and learning. I’ll have to think about that one.

Hold on!

All those great poems my students were writing over the extra-long, weather-extended spring break – now must be graded double-quick!  They got more time to procrastinate and turn in mushy stuff, yet I’m now held to stringent deadlines for term reporting! Ah, the (ahem) joys of teaching!

My boys gave up and went to bed, my husband’s soft snores punctuate the poetry – often much better than the punctuation that already exists in it, and I – I would like to rebel. Yet, I’m the one who made it due the day before break – the day that never came because of flooded and washed-out roads. An act of God? Maybe – sent just to remind me to space things out for myself. 

And my best students are out on the Jr. Beta Convention – how is it that we grade what cannot be turned in? 

But good is out there- I got my car back today- after a fender bender relegated me to a smoky rental car that I’m sure was the majority of the cause of my January malaise. My car is back home – safe in the garage and it actually smells nice.

My dream job does exist – it just exists about a 12 to 15 hour drive away. It could exist ten minutes from here, but the local university still cannot seem to find the value of opening the position for a full directorship. So – I’m holding on to hopes and holding on to sanity and holding on to the dreams that were rekindled when I slowed down last week to look at them again. 

Not certain of a path, but assured that God is still in control, and that he holds my future – and He is truly all I need to hold on to.

For all of you who are holding on too, know that He is exceedingly and abundantly providing for your future – even if it’s difficult to see right now. We are going to make it!

Where’s Your Joy?

This week has been a joy for me. My husband is back home, and (miracle that it is) all four schools had spring break the same week, so all five of us have been home together. 

Today is the last day, though. I made breakfast and got everyone to come eat before it was cold. My husband looked at my sleepy daughter and asked, “where’s your joy?”  Sleepy as she was, she didn’t miss a beat and replied, “in the bed.” So he told her she needed to go get it – meaning she should perk up. She ate her last bite and announced that she would go get it – and promptly crawled back under the covers in her room. 

It’s her last chance to sleep before the push toward research projects, living history performances, and ACT studies take over her life again. I see her sleeping and just smile. I may miss a moment or two of her silliness, but I’m glad to see her sleeping. I know that sleep is rare in her world.

The boys linger at the table listening to my husband’s favorite gospel songs and talking trucks – new colors, engine power, grills, EPA regulations, etc. They could sit there all day. I enjoy listening to them even though I have no clue what they are really saying. 

And without the pressures of school, I’ve been able to rejoin the blogosphere. I have missed so many of you and you just can’t know how my heart has found peace reading about the exploits of my fellow bloggers this week. Anne, Iva, Peggy, Gabriel, Dawn, Lillian, and Joanna – just to name a few – your words and pictures are so wonderful to me!  Thank you for helping me find joy in my day to day once more. I may never meet any of you this side of heaven, but as my husband’s music is reminding me, there’s a great glad morning coming one day and I’m sure that there’s a special place in heaven for all those who have the gift of encouragement that I have found in each of you. 

Be blessed this week as we look forward to Resurrection Day!

Shamrock Surprise

Okay Folks! It’s been a while since I had a cake disaster and since the disasters are much more fun to write about than the successes, I have to skip sharing all the great cakes and share this one instead. 

Inspired by my family’s Irish heritage and the Today Show’s cooking segment yesterday, I decided on Shepherd’s Pie with a Champ Mash topping and Guiness cake for supper. However, impending hail storms in the area yesterday made a trip to the local package store to buy the Guiness less than advisable. 

Now this story does not involve any adjustments to the space/time continuum in my kitchen as last year’s king cake disaster did, but it does involve the need to improvise because of the weather. With the Guiness cake out of the picture, and my daughter calling for “something green” on the menu, I thought about the shamrock cupcakes I had seen on television yesterday morning. (We are out on spring break and morning news/entertainment is my guilty pleasure/time waster.)

I rummaged the pantry shelves looking for cupcake paper- I know there is a small package of them in there – but it has apparently gone into hiding. So, with time passing quickly and no way to do cupcakes I thought of doing a regular sized cake using the method they showed for the smaller version. To accomplish this, you have to use the paper in the cupcake pan so that you can place small rolls of foil or heatproof beads between the paper and the sides of the pan to squeeze the sides of the paper into the shamrock shape.  I should have used just a regular round cake pan I guess, but I thought the heart shaped pans I have would give at least two of the shamrock leaves a pretty, rounded shape and I would only have to shape the foil to pinch in the bottom leaf. 

I cut two big pieces of parchment paper to line the pans (which I could have done for cupcakes but cutting 24small circles is much more time consuming than just two big sheets of parchment).  I got them in place with the rolls of foil on the sides and noticed that I might need to line the point of the heart shaped pans with a roll of foil too – since it was pointed after all. That was trickier than I expected and the clock was ticking – the mash was almost done and I only had just enough time to bake the cake before  I would need to assemble the shepard’s pie and put it in the oven.  So I abandoned lining the bottom point of the pans and convinced myself that the parchment being pinched on the sides would round it out anyway. Ummm- yeah.

So batter (box of store bought butter yellow with a teaspoon of cream de menthe candy flavoring and some green food coloring added) went into the pans and I shoved them in the oven. 

Twenty five minutes later, this came out of my oven:

I snapped the picture and texted my mom and my sister – always my partners in crime and hilarity – and asked, “shamrock or leprechaun’s …?” (Use your imagination people.)

The texts themselves were truly hilarious and continued I as I debated conducting a bris for the cake and my teenagers argued over who would get to eat the cut off part.   I finally just iced it – and my daughter wrote “kiss me” on top in chocolate morsels.  

My husband even laughed and since he is the most Irish of us (he argues that my red hair and green eyes don’t count because I’m more Scottswoman than Irish) we asked him to bless the food. Heaven knows we all needed to be blessed at that point – well, maybe just forgiven. His blessing began and I heard a rare thing – spontaneous verse – in true Irish form spilled from his lips and gave us all the joy we needed.  

Here’s the whole meal: Shepard’s Pie, pea salad (for extra green), and the cake.  
My husband once said my china pattern belonged to an old woman – I told him to stick around for fifty years and it would match.  

We finished the night by watching Leap Year- which I always giggle through-while we ate our shamrock cake. It was delicious if you were wondering.

My sister has promised to blog our text messages since she is the media queen – go check them out on her blog Imperfectly Nice if you are brave enough.

What is it?

Ok. During the early 1990s, we called these something with a South American sounding name. My children just call them “drug rugs.” Whatever the other word was has been on the tip of my tongue for months because I’d like to give them a better name for this thing.  So blogging friends, anyone remember the word that I can’t?