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Thanksgiving and Finding Old Recipes

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and we had a great time with my family. We always have good food and good conversation.


As I was peeling potatoes, my older daughter asked if she could help. :)


My brother & my husband deep in conversation


Everyone at the table (but me, taking the photo)IMG_0158

Since the women did the cooking, the men did the dishes. (Yes, I know, we were very old school.)IMG_0194

Some photos from my youngest child’s perspectiveIMG_0195IMG_0208

Double thumb war!

My mom showed me a cookbook that belonged to my great-grandmother. She bought it in 1924 and someone in my mom’s family rebound it, as it was falling apart. I love that it’s really well-worn, complete with coffee stains.


I’m guessing my great-grandma used this page a lot – I can see her putting her coffee cup down on the one side to keep the book from closing. :)IMG_0165

This Mystery Cake recipe is interesting to me. I’m wondering why it’s called mystery cake. So many of these recipes have no actual measurements (this one actually does) and often there’s no specificity with temperature of the oven and baking time. This one says “bake in a moderate oven” which perhaps is the mystery.


I’m surprised to see that they were discussing calories back in the 1920s! I guess some things never change.


This page seems to be very well-worn as well. I’m so curious about the “Butter Gebackenes” – something I’ve never heard of that sounds perhaps German. What I’m most curious about is the “XXXX sugar” and the “two knifepoint of hartshorn” (both about what on earth hartshorn is and how on earth you’d add “two knifepoints”). It also says to “bake” but gives no indication of the temperature, the time, or what to look for when it’s done (i.e.- when a toothpick comes out clean). I’m wondering if bakers were more intuitive back then, or if we are too busy these days to sit and watch an oven so we need very specific directions (or if we are just dumber).

Either way, I’m so curious about some of these recipes! I think I’m going to attempt to make one “old” recipe a week and maybe blogging about the results. Would you as my reader be interested in this? I’ve also got a cookbook from the 1960s that’s got some really interesting recipes in it. :)

Well, I hope everyone is having a great week and my fellow Americans had a great Thanksgiving. I’d love to hear from people about their own OLD recipes.

In the meantime, here’s my daughter with one of my favorite cake recipes. She turned my cake into a turkey with her creativity.



How to Fail at Everything

Confession: I’m not very organized. If you know me well, you are laughing right now. If you are someone who was mistakenly under the impression that I must be pretty organized to do all the things I do, you’d be grossly overestimating me.

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When I was a teacher without being a mother, I could stay at school till 6pm every day and make sure I got everything done. Now that I am a teacher and a mother, I am struggling. I stay 45 minutes to an hour after school’s out every day and then pick up my son from high school. I bring work home with me that usually gets halfway done, or I get as much done as possible and call it a night at midnight. In the meantime, my classroom has piles of papers needing to be filed or handed back or thrown away.

Me, when I was younger, cuter, and had more time to organize.

Me, when I was younger, cuter, and had more time to organize.

I come home and there’s laundry and papers to sign and bills to pay. (Thankfully, the husband does most of the bills now that I’m working.) There are always dishes to do, and I need to workout and stop eating candy (thanks, Halloween!)

Every morning I try to get out the door EARLY so I can make copies and get things ready for the morning. Every morning I’m so exhausted from working late at night that I’m struggling to get out the door to be exactly on time (which is still 20 minutes before school starts, and is still not enough). Every day I tell myself that today will be better and somehow someway it’s not.

When I first taught, I never had to worry about district assigned trimester assessments, performance tasks, or online behavior assessments for the district. I had textbooks for every class, and an actual curriculum to follow. Now, we have no real Language Arts or Social Studies curriculum. Instead I’m given standards to work on and then the students get “assessed.” The “curriculum” is “Hey teacher, try to figure out how to do this on your own.” It’s ridiculously frustrating and difficult.

When I was hired, one thing that seemed to impress my principal-to-be was that I had organized a big overnight field trip for all my children and that I was willing to do the same for the students at my school. 59 students in the classes. I begged and pleaded and bothered the camp until they found 40 spots for us. I sent home letters (in English and Spanish), held a meeting at night, sent home packets, reminded, cajoled, rewarded students for bringing their paperwork in time. Our due date for our deposit came and went. I asked for more time, as I had 4 students who had turned in paperwork and $ and nothing else. I sent home emails. I reminded. Weeks later and I still only have 17 students out of 40 (out of 58). I’m not entirely sure what is going to happen, but I’m really disappointed that I’ve worked so hard to bring this trip to our school and there’s such a lack of interest and excitement.

I have a talkative class. They get easily distracted. They fool around, eat in class, and walk around. They talk back. They give me attitude. They question everything I do. They were mad that I didn’t bring THEM treats on MY birthday. They question why they can’t get on chrome books and why I am giving them a quiz. When I switch their seats, they throw fits about who they have to sit next to. They use language they shouldn’t and they take far too long to get in one straight line. But somehow I still love them all and I still want them to have this field trip, dammit!

Today I found out that I have an assessment due tomorrow. I had no idea. Thankfully it’s not a task I have to prepare them for, but it’s still something that I wasn’t prepared for and that will throw everything off tomorrow.

As I sit at my dining room table that is piled with mail and lunch boxes and papers and abandoned water bottles, I think about how I’ve managed to fail at everything today.

Step one: Start off with less than 6.5 hours of sleep.

Step two: don’t get to school in time to completely rearrange all the desks, so the students walk in to this mess:


which of course makes them go completely nutty because, “Where do we sit?!!”

Step 3: Find out your students have to take an assessment you should have known about but didn’t.

Step 4: Panic and go talk to a veteran teacher about how freaked out you are during lunch.

Step 5: Not realize lunch is over when you’re talking to said teacher and as you head back to the classroom a few minutes late, see that the vice principal (who you’re not entirely sure even likes you in the first place) is standing outside your door with arms crossed, surely judging you because you’re late.

Step 6: Accidentally text your son on his iPad instead of his phone, so he doesn’t get your text saying you’re leaving a few minutes late to pick him up.

Step 7: Get home the exact time the piano teacher is pulling up to the house so that your son doesn’t have time to practice before his lesson.

Step 8: Have to tell the piano teacher you weren’t able to order the piano book she asked you to get for your daughter.

Step 9: Weigh yourself after not working out for 2 months.

Step 10: Eat chocolate, or drink wine. Either is acceptable, because at this point, it’s the end of the day and you’re exhausted.

Bonus: At 9pm, as your son is getting into bed, you realize you need to wash his gym clothes for school tomorrow. (or you don’t have anything for your daughter to wear for picture day)

I Don’t Blame Disneyland for the Price Hike

I grew up in Orange County, just minutes away from The Happiest Place on Earth. I went back when there were E tickets.

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A Disneyland book of tickets

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E tickets always had the best rides.

Even though we lived close, we didn’t go all the time. We would make a BIG deal about going to Disneyland. We would pick our favorite rides that we HAD to go on. We ALWAYS started with Pirates of the Caribbean – not sure why. It was just a tradition that stuck. It always got us in the mood for more Disneyland!

And there were always things we’d do – like have a Frozen banana, go to the Tiki Room, eat lunch at the Tomorrowland Terrace, hit It’s a Small World… We’d stay all day and wear ourselves out and have the best time after getting the most of our day there. We’d sucked every last drop of fun we could out of the Happiest Place on Earth, and it would hold us over until our next visit a year or so later.

Disneyland could get crowded, but not insane. An hour wait was a unique experience rather than a common occurrence.


6 years ago, when we celebrated my daughter’s birthday at the park.

These days, there are SO many people who have annual passes. I know my point of view won’t be very popular with a lot of my friends, but I sometimes think that the whole annual pass idea takes away some of the magic of Disneyland. When you can go after school any time you like, or you go for just an hour because your kid wants to go on one certain ride, or your kids come to expect it as a common occurrence, I think it’s too much. When as many people have annual passes are going to the park as are the people coming in from all over the world, that creates a problem. I can’t imagine traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to see Disneyland only to be thwarted by too-big crowds and hour-long lines at every ride. That’s not magical. It is no longer the happiest place on earth at that point.

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And I get it – I really do! Every time we DO go to Disneyland all I want is MORE Disneyland! We actually did buy annual passes one year, when the price of an annual pass was paid off by the second visit.

I just think there has to be some middle ground. Perhaps a pass when you could go on whatever day you wanted, but you were limited to 20 visits a year. (Good lord, 20 visits a year is an awful lot!) Maybe 12? Once a month? That still seems like a lot.

I’ve also worked at a theme park. I was working at Universal Studios the day we broke records. It was the year Jurassic Park, the Ride came out and everyone got a t-shirt commemorating the occasion. As someone who works at a theme park, I can tell you that while it’s nice the park is making money, the employee doesn’t get anything more except more work. More crowds. More inane questions and more cute kids. More nice visitors and more rude ones, too. More of everything. More attempting to rush as many people through an attraction as is possible. More trash. More people complaining about how long everything takes because it’s so crowded.

So, I know a LOT of people are upset with Disney right now. I am hearing a lot of threats and “maybe this is it for us” status updates.

Maybe we can all go back to going to the happiest place on earth once a year and truly making it our happiest day of the year. Or maybe Disneyland will have to revisit some of their policies. Whatever the case, I hope that Disneyland can remain such a wonderful place for old and young, and the crowds can perhaps thin out a bit, so that everyone entering those front gates will have a truly magical time.

Astrocamp – The Final Chapter?

Astrocamp – The Final Chapter?

Yesterday we got back from 3 days at Astrocamp with my youngest child. You may remember me writing about my first two trips with my older children HERE and HERE.

My daughter was so excited, she packed herself and woke up early the day we left.


The buses are getting ready to leave as the parents look on.


We had 131 kids, which necessitates 3 buses instead of 2.


I snuck a pic of my girl just before they left.

This trip brought with it several firsts: first time for 3 buses, first time we went from Wed-Fri (instead of a weekend or Mon-Wed), and first time so early in the year to name a few. It was also the first time I was involved while working full-time, which was different. It was also my last time here as a parent. I’ve helped coordinate 3 trips for 3 kids as a parent at our school. This year is my last year as a parent here, as my youngest will be moving on to middle school next year. It’s hard to believe! I am trying to coordinate a trip for my own students later this year, but it will be a different experience as a teacher than as a parent.

As usual, Astrocamp was beautiful and inviting.

We always start by eating lunch in the beautiful meadow.

We always start by eating lunch in the beautiful meadow.

After lunch, it was time to move into the dorms and get our first informational meeting, where we meet our instructor and head out to our first class.

One of the things I’ve talked about in terms of camp is the zipline. My son didn’t do it, and regretted it. I redeemed myself last time, and my youngest couldn’t WAIT to try it. Sadly, it wasn’t operating this time.

The usual padding was missing from the poles at the end of the zipline. :(

The usual padding was missing from the poles at the end of the zipline. :(

So, instead of zip lining, they gave us another activity to do…

You climb on the ladder, climb to the top, then jump off.

You climb on the ladder, climb to the top, then jump off.

I was feeling pretty awful (and scared), so I declined. I’m still not sure if it was the altitude or the stress of the week leading up to this, but I was feeling shaky and my head was killing me, so I took photos. My partner, however, did it and was awesome. All the girls did it, too. I was so proud of them!!

My partner

My partner, being awesome.

The classes this time were mostly the same as the last time we went…

Mars studies and rock climbing


This time, I harnessed up and climbed a Mars rock wall (I didn’t last time).

Rocket Building (and launching)


My girlie, building her rocket.

My favorite – Atmosphere & Gases. This time the chaperones got to have some fun, too!


Lights & Lasers was a class I missed last time, so that was cool.IMG_5194 IMG_5198

The funnest part of that class was the noodle fight wearing upside-down glasses. My partner and I got to try and we laughed so hard – it was like therapy!

Finally, we did the Skycoaster again. Last time, I was far too chicken to try it. This time, I got harnessed just in case. I was still terrified, but I didn’t want to let the group (or myself) down. So the lowdown is this, for those of you who didn’t read about it last time.

First, you get up on a ladder and get hooked up to the line. Then you dangle.


Then, the kids pull the rope to lift you as high as you want to go. Some people went all the way to the top.



Then you pull the ripcord…IMG_9841

And fly.IMG_9881

I went last. I was terrified. I walked up the ladder, and as I was up on the ladder, I seriously considered saying, “No. Never mind. I’m outta here.” But I didn’t. (partly because I didn’t want the girls to think less of me and partly because I didn’t think I could, knowing that one of our teachers was right there, with my camera.

So I went up.

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I only went about 3 feet in the air. Which was what I was comfortable with. I kind of wish I went higher, but I’m still proud I didn’t get back off the ladder. If I ever get the chance to do it again, I will try for a few more feet. :)

I’m going to try to book a trip for my own 5th grade class this year, and maybe make it a tradition at our school. We’ll see how it goes. If this is the end for me, I’ve really enjoyed my 3 trips to camp. It’s been a lot of work coordinating, and sometimes hard and extremely tiring as a chaperone, but also so much fun and so rewarding.

3 trips

322 kids

36 chaperones

1 possible broken wrist

a little bit of puke

a few tears

but mostly lots of smiles.


My first Stitch Fix

now that I’m working, I need more clothes and have less time to buy them, so I decided to try Stitch Fix.

It’s a service where you fill out a style profile and a stylist picks out pieces for you and sends them to your house. You try them on and pick what you want and send the rest back.

I said I was a teacher and needed a mix of casual and work clothes. Here’s what I got:

I love the skirt. It’s got cute detail and is neutral, so it can work with many items.

 The top is far too baggy and just doesn’t work for me.

  I’m torn on this cardigan. It’s soooooooo squishy and soft, but it’s a little big and I’m not sure about the patches on the elbows.  
It is freezing in my classroom… Just not 100% sure.   
  This sweater is so comfy! It’s again, kind of big. Is it too big? Too boxy? Ideas on how to wear it?  
Maybe with jeans? 

I also got a pair of earrings I like.

So, not bad for a first try.

What do you think? Which sweater would YOU keep if you were me? I’d love to hear some opinions!

Three Weeks In

Three Weeks In

There’s nothing like going back to work full-time to damper your online time. I haven’t blogged in 2 weeks and I barely keep up with people on Facebook like I used to. This is actually a good thing. I’m participating more in real life, I feel.

How is real life 3 weeks in?


The first weekend after school started was a lot of resting, doing laundry, catching up, and searching for books for my classroom. I also was extremely fortunate to be able to get a crash course in a teaching technique used by one of my daughter’s wonderful 5th grade teachers. She opened her classroom to me on a Sunday and spent a good hour with me going over everything. Between her help and all the getting-to-know-you help I got from her wonderful partner teacher, I was feeling much more confident about how this year was going to go.

The second week of school was more getting used to the schedule. On Mondays, the girls get out early and the boy starts late. We got into the groove of me taking my son to school (except on Mondays) and picking him up. It is lovely, honestly, to spend time with just him – however short – because it’s rare these days now that he’s older. I also realize my times like this with him are limited, and I cherish them.

Watching him head into that big school...

Watching him head into that big school…

That Saturday, he and I attended a Leadership Day for Comedy Sportz High School League. Sean’s trying to start one at his school, and we were given a lot of help on how to start it and how to run it. He just needs to find a teacher at the school willing to help out. Fingers crossed!!


Advisor’s session, where I asked far too many questions, and Phil and James were infinitely patient with me.


The boy, making friends with MUCH bigger, older, funny kids.

That Sunday was my husband’s and my 18th wedding anniversary. We took the kids out to dinner. The first place we tried to make reservations at was out of business. After being in business for 37 years, it closed down. We were bummed. I took this opportunity to find a new place we’d never been to.

I picked a place that looked good on the internet, but in reality was not so great. It was a) tiny b) empty and c) smelled weird. We decided to go somewhere else instead. We walked to a fondue place we liked, but guess what? It was closed down. My husband and son ran to a restaurant we knew of up the street from the defunct fondue place – closed down also. I was wearing almost-stilletos and I could barely walk at this point. We were all hungry, and getting grumpy. My husband ran to an Italian place we knew of while I walked (slowly) with the kids. He eventually called me with a slightly closer Italian restaurant to try, so we settled there. At this point, we were happy to just have something to eat and a place to sit down. We ended up having a lovely dinner.

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Our third week started out with a lot of excitement! First of all, I was excited to finally do a big hands-on project with my students. Secondly, and more exciting for all of us, we got the keys to our new house!

Lots of noise, lots of fun.

Lots of noise, lots of fun.

Even my kids who normally hate sitting still or listening or being engaged in learning were ON TASK, engaged, and (gasp) enjoying themselves. My aides were having mini heart attacks over the mess, but I was just enjoying every minute of it.


After school that same day, we headed over to the new house to plan and dream about how it was all going to come together. Everyone’s excited about decorating their own rooms. I’m trying not to be overwhelmed by the idea of moving in the middle of the school year. :P

Wednesday was an impromptu back to school night for my 5th grader, as well as the chaperone and informational meeting for our Astrocamp trip coming up in two weeks. I got handed several packets of paperwork and many checks that night. As much as I enjoy being able to set up this field trip for the kids, it’s been more challenging juggling it with work and all my other responsibilities. There have been many last minute changes made – chaperones dropping out and last-minute kids being added. I’m wiped out. I’m looking forward to being on the trip itself and glad that this is my last time.

The rest of the week had it’s challenges, which I won’t go into. Suffice it to say, I was ready for Friday. On Friday I started to lose my voice. I thought it was because I yelled on the playground when the kids were playing kickball because I forgot my whistle. Turns out it’s because was coming down with a cold.

That night, we had a good friend over for dinner. It’s always fun to entertain, and it’s extra nice when Steve comes to town. I’m hoping that once we’re in the new place we can entertain more. It’s going to be one of my goals for the new year.

Good friends, good food.

Good friends, good food.

Today my husband and I were going to go out to a nice dinner just the two of us, but with how I’m feeling, we’re going to pass. Hopefully I can just rest and enjoy the long weekend before heading back to school on Tuesday.

I hope everyone has a lovely Labor Day Weekend!


Back to School for All of Us

This week was back to school for my three kids. It was also back to teaching for me. For my husband, it is a new role of picking up the kids and making lunches and breakfasts every day, since I need to be out of the house before everyone else.

This summer I applied for a job at our district, after subbing for two years. For weeks I was in contact with the district about how procedures work. I was to turn in my resume, my letters of recommendation, my intro letter, my transcripts, and proof that I’m a teacher, basically, all online. Then I was to leave it up to the hiring gods for a principal to see my information and hopefully call me.

I was told over and over that it wasn’t protocol to contact the principals, so I didn’t. Until the very end, when I contacted one that had the most openings. I still didn’t hear anything.

With one week left till school starts, I came to the realization that I was not going to be hired. It was simply too late in the scheme of things for me to get a job. So I changed my mindset. I would sign up to sub at as many places as possible and hope to get known enough in the district that I would be able to get hired for NEXT year.


On our last Friday before school started on Tuesday, I took the kids to lunch, swimming, and yogurt. At about 3pm on that day, as I was pulling up to the Menchie’s in Burbank, I got a call from a principal to come for an interview.

I came home, showered, and headed to my interview.

The next day, I realized I had a lot of shopping to do. I needed to get supplies from the teacher store, and buy some new clothes for my new job. I was both excited and terrified of what was in store for me.

On Monday, that was my one day to get into the classroom and set up.


The classroom when I walked in.

I had a blank slate. And even after I’d bought several things to put up, it was still really bare.


I was starting to feel good about my classroom and how it was shaping up until I walked into the 14-year-veteran teacher’s class that was FILLED with bookshelves and books and color and life. It will take me a LONG time for my classroom to look like that.

On Tuesday morning, we all got ready to go. My kids were up and ready early so we could all spend some time together before rushing out the door.

3 kids, 3 schools - high school, middle school, and elementary school

3 kids, 3 schools – high school, middle school, and elementary school

Then Dad let me in on it, too.

All 4 of us ready for the first day.

All 4 of us ready for the first day. (I like that you can see Dad in the window.)

After school that first day I had an appointment for the youngest and a class for the middle. One thing that helped us that day (and helped us get off our feet the first week) was my amazing parents coming up and having meals for us all for the entire week! (And they helped clean up and do some laundry, too!)

It’s been a real shift in our family for me to be back at work full-time. My school is on the same schedule as my youngest, but I stay a bit later to get things done, so my husband leaves work to pick them up and then heads back when I get home. I get to take the big guy to high school on my way, which is nice – just the two of us. We’re all getting used to the changes and after the first week, I think we’re all settling in.


We ended the week with ice cream, delicious chili made by my own Mom, and Star Trek. (Mommy may or may not have fallen asleep during the show and may or may not have gone to bed RIGHT after the kids.)

This year has many changes and challenges and adventures ahead. I hope we have more happy than sad and more highs than lows, and I wish the same to all of you.




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