Friday, May 28, 2010

Caffeinated Randomness: You are what you do

Good Morning -

Fast post this morning for some deep thoughts and a really funny story:

Deep Thoughts:
I'm reading Donald Miller's (author of "Blue Like Jazz") new book, "A Million Miles in a Hundred Years" which is about is experience working with film-makers to turn his memoirs into a movie.

In the book, he writes about the process of learning what makes a good story and about different kinds of characters.
Something he learns is that a character is what he does. He and his fellow writers and talking about a part in the movie where the character is angry -- and the film writers ask, "How do we know he is angry?" and Donald says, "He can say, 'I am angry.'" The film writers then explain that in movies, it's all action - a character is what he does.

A few weeks later, Donald Miller was meeting a friend for coffee and the man was talking about his new appreciation and new dimension of love he had for his wife recently since they had their first baby. Donald asked the friend how his wife was responding to this new expression on the husband's part -- then the friend/husband realized that he never told or showed his wife his new appreciation. That's when Donald said he realized life is the same as the movies -- people are what they do. Until this husband ACTED on this new love and new appreciation, it wasn't really a part of his life in a way that others could appreciate.

I like this concept - I am what I do. I can say I like to run until I'm blue in the face -- but if I never go running, it means nothing. I can say I want to learn to be a better cook for years but until I roll up my sleeves and start trying new recipes, it means nothing. I am what I do.

Okay, now the funny story:
I just finished reading "The Last Lecture" and I enjoyed it so much that I bought it for all of my teachers as an end-of-the-year present. I also work with a Family Service Coordinator (a family liaison with at-risk families - her work is SO valuable!) and this was her first year in that role. For her, I decided to take a picture of all the children she works with and frame them so she can always remember her first batch of children/families she impacted.

So last night, I decided to wrap all of these presents - the books and the picture frame with pictures in it. I took everything over to Chris' because I hadn't seen him in a few days and I decided to wrap presents while he and I caught up and watched a movie. I wrapped all the books and was ready to start on the picture frame when I realized -- to travel to Chris' house, I had put the pictures of the children in the pages of one of The Last Lecture books so they wouldn't get damaged -- then I wrapped all the (eight) books without removing the pictures. I couldn't believe my stupidity.

Chris and I were laughing really hard at the situation - and started trying to guess how many books I would have to unwrap before I found the pictures. I found the pictures on the second try! :-D

Okay, have a great Memorial Day weekend! Whatever your weekend holds, remember, you are what you do!

For more randomness, visit here.

image signature

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not Me Monday - End of the Year!

I am a teacher/administrator/director/educator who is NOT more excited for the end of the school year than most of my students!

I would never be the kind of employee that when my boss jokingly says, "How long until summer?" I answer in split second, "4 weeks 2 days," "3 weeks 1 day," or... today "1 week 4.5 days"...

I have NOT been counting off the weeks until summer since Spring Break. Nope, not me!

Except it TOTALLY IS ME!!!!

I have NO PLANS this summer! Literally NO PLANS!

I have not had NO PLANS for an entire summer since birth, basically. There has always been a family trip at least - more likely camps, classes, trips, work, MANY THINGS.

I will have fun this summer, but I don't know what it is yet. But I am 1 WEEK 4.5 DAYS away from it!!!!

Teachers are never more excited for summer than the kids. No way! And certainly Not Me!l

For more Not Me confessions, click here.

image signature

Friday, May 21, 2010

Caffeinated Randomness: Simple Joys

I've been at a conference in Denver the past two days and SIMPLE JOYS have been the name of the game...

Yesterday the room started to smell REALLY BAD! The presenter finally acknowledged this around 10am and told us that there was a lilac tree outside if we wanted to make center-pieces for our table. I have enjoyed the past two days sitting in a conference room so much more with beautiful and fragrant lilacs in front of me on the table.

This has been a two-part conference - the first part was two days of training in April and this is two days of training in May. The trainings have been at the same hotel, in the same room, with the same presenters each time. One HUGE difference met us Thursday morning, however. In April, the presenters put little "fidget toys" on our tables (slinkys, play-doh, foam connectors - just little things to play with during the long lectures). Our table (full of early childhood educators NOT used to sitting still for 8 hours for 2 days) REALLY missed the fidget toys -- so I ran to Target at lunch at bought us fidget toys -- koosh balls, play-doh, Hello Kitty stamps, slinkys, and stretchy balls... other tables are very jealous and we've had much more fun than we would have without toys.

One of my classroom preschool teaching assistants has been out of work all this week because her daughter has Crohn's Disease and she has been in the hospital having a flare-up/complication. The daughter was in the hospital (and the mom was out of work) for three weeks in April and now they're back there again. I learned that the hospital was just 5 miles from my hotel where the conference was, so I zipped over to surprise the daughter and the mom yesterday afternoon. I brought them the lilacs from our table and had a quick visit with mother and daughter. It just felt good to see her, make that person-to-person connection after communicating via text all week... not really a simple joy, but it felt pretty simple. Please keep this girl in your prayers.

Last night, all the girls I'm here with wanted to watch the season finale of Grey's Anatomy. I am not up-to-date on Grey's, but I've watched it on season's past - I figured I wouldn't have too much trouble catching up... I was right. It was certainly an intense episode, but it was a great time of bonding with the girls I work with - cuddling on the couch and hiding behind pillows as a gunman was roaming around Seattle Grace Hospital.

Today was a beautiful day and I took my lunch outside to eat in a little park near the hotel while finishing a book. It was delightful - and I saw our presenter nearby walking in the grass in her bare feet - simple joys.

This afternoon has been HARD TO STAY AWAKE! At our afternoon break, another director and I collapsed on the grass in the sun outside and set an alarm in case we fell asleep. We didn't fall asleep, but decided that, to have a chance of being more awake in the afternoon, we should roll down the grassy hills on our stomachs, like kids do. We rolled, and laughed, and landed dizzy, and had a great time! We felt like silly kids!

I feel like I don't indulge -- or at least acknowledge my simple joys every often. This has been a really good trip - time away from school, time with great colleagues, time with good friends, time with beautiful weather, time with great training, time with fun fidget toys, time with intermittent breaks when I can enjoy the beautiful weather, time laying the the grass, time finishing a good book, time spent smelling beautiful lilacs, time seeing one of my teachers...

I wish you a beautiful weekend full of simple and beautiful joys! It is my hope for my weekend too! :-D

For more randomness, visit here.

image signature

Monday, May 17, 2010

Not Me Monday: Fire Brownies!

I have recently discovered The Food Network... actually, that's a lie. I have recently discovered that I LIKE The Food Network. The channel has never appealed to me until recently -- that might be due to the fact that Chris REALLY likes it, so I've actually watched it lately for more than a channel check.

My enjoyment of The Food Network this weekend led me to The Food Network website - and led me to create an online recipe box full of recipes I want to try this summer.

One such recipe, I decided couldn't wait until summer - S'more Brownies -- or, what now might "NOT" be forever known in my household as FIRE BROWNIES!

I wish I could say that the above picture is a picture of what I created... it's not. The above picture is the picture that The Food Network website made look so irresistible that I decided to make the S'more Brownies (Fire Brownies).

So I had a realization while I was baking... oh, I did NOT have a realization while I was baking. I did NOT realize that one reason I really don't make time for baking very often is that it makes me feel lonely. Nope, can't admit that. Why would baking make me feel lonely?

I did NOT drop several tears into the chocolate I was melting on the stove. Nope, not me! I do NOT miss the family that I do not yet have when I bake. I do NOT become hopeless over ever EVER having the family (the husband, children, animals, nosy neighbors, etc.) I've dreamed of for 26 years. Not me! Baking is supposed to be fun. It does NOT make me feel inadequate, childish or lonely.

So while I was NOT feeling lonely (which I really didn't feel for long. I put on some music after the tears I did NOT shed and made myself feel better - more excited about the baking process), I made my first graham cracker crust, I made my first non-family brownie recipe... AND attempted my first experience with the broil setting on the oven.

The last step to making the brownies is adding big marshmallow's to the top of the brownies, toast them until they're golden brown using the broil setting on the oven. I certainly did NOT set the brownies on fire!

I did NOT open the oven to see the center of the marshmallow's on fire - and, you know marshmallow's - the fire was NOT spreading over the entire dish like crazy! The flames did NOT start leaping out of the oven when I opened the door. And I did NOT start screaming to Chris, "Chris, they're on fire! CHRIS, THEY'RE ON FIRE!!!!!! SERIOUSLY - SERIOUSLY!!! CHRIS, THEY'RE ON FIRE!!!!!"

Chris came into the kitchen - told me to open the windows (later he told me, "When someone is panicking, give them a job." Opening the windows was my panic job -- I did a GREAT job!), and pulled the flaming pan out of the oven and blew it out. (Baked Alaska, anyone?)

I was NOT near tears after my lonely S'more Brownies burst into flames (yes, that's lonely, not lovely).

Chris and I did NOT scrape off the charred marshmallow top layer, and put the brownies (with the inner-layer of marshmallows now on top) back in the oven to broil again.

The second time was the charm for me and what I affectionately started calling the Fire Brownies -- Live and Learn. Or, in my case, Bake and Learn... or Burn and Learn... something like that!

Chris did NOT find the entire thing funny. Nope, not my boyfriend. He did NOT make the comment to me today, that he should have run upstairs and grabbed a camera before coming to my rescue in the kitchen. He has NOT made the comment since the Fire Incident that he needs to make the mental note to always have a video camera rolling when I'm cooking or baking... Nope, Not Chris!

The Fire Brownies actually tasted very good. REALLY sticky, rich and fun to eat - especially while the marshmallows were still warm and gooey.

All in all, I'd definitely recommend the recipe -- but BEWARE that broiler setting.

For more Not Me confessions, visit here.

image signature

Friday, May 14, 2010

Caffeinated Randomness: Real Randomness

Good Morning Randomness Fans... I have no idea where my thoughts are going to take this post this morning.

My room is a MESS. I feel like maybe I'm four or five years old and my room is actually a land of adventure... the mounds of clothes and junk and stuff is actually a rugged wilderness that I carefully maneuver daily. The truth is - there is nothing pretend about it... my room is a disaster. And just a hunch... the disaster is not going anywhere until school is out (three weeks, one day).

I visited last night for one purpose - where in the world does the blogging word MEME come from and how in the world do you pronounce it. It just seems to be one of those words that gets under my skin... In my head, I pronounce it Mem (rhymes with Stem)... but is it actually pronounced Meemee? This word is just so stupid!

The problem is, I'm thinking about doing a blog link this summer... and I don't know what else to call it? The word just gets under my skin. Other words get under my skin and I almost decided to list them... but then I thought - why in the world would I want to start my day by listing all the words that bother me?

I will say this, the word "pee" - when did it become so socially acceptable to use this word to describe urine and the act of urinating? I think this word is so gross and crude... and everyone says it. Whatever someone is saying to me - if and when they choose to use this word in the story or conversation - I just stopped listening to whatever they were saying. I become so distracted by the grossness of what they just described, and frankly, I've lost respect for them not being able to express themselves a more intelligent and respectable way.

Okay, that rant is finished for the moment.

I don't know if I shared this story when it happened... but about six weeks ago, I was teaching a lesson on compliments to my preschoolers. At the end of the lesson, we went around the circle and every child turned to the child sitting next to him or her and he or she gave that friend a compliment. We went all the way around the circle and we came to the little boy sitting next to me... he looked me up and down... and up and down. Then he said, "Miss Brooke... ... Miss Brooke... I like... ... I like... ... Miss Brooke, I like your head." It was the cutest thing!

One more random thing.
Chris and I went to Florida about ten days ago to celebrate his sister, Becky, graduating from medical school. I met his family and we had a great few days in Orlando. Well his family like to play jokes on each other and other people...
After the graduation, Chris put on his sister's cap and gown and went up to other graduates pretending to be a med school graduate himself and asked if he could have his picture taken with these "medical school friends that he had gone to school with." Becky would tell him the names of the students to help him pull off the joke...Well, Becky's med school class was not large - everyone knows everyone - and NO ONE knew Chris. The looks on the faces of these poor med students were so funny as they were searching the folds of their brains... "How burned out am I that I can't remember this guy? He seems to know me but I have no idea how this is!"For more randomness, visit here.

image signature

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Surprise

I went to Michigan for Mother's Day.

I went to Michigan for Mother's Day and neither of my parents knew I was coming.

With the help of some family friends, I pulled off a really big Mother's Day surprise.

My parents were invited for a "Mother's Day brunch" at our neighbor's home at 11:00am.

Meanwhile, I flew from Denver to Chicago Friday evening and arrived in Chicago around 11:30pm. I rented a car and crashed at a friend's house in Chicago.

Then, I got on the road around 5:00am Saturday and drove up to Muskegon and to the home of our next-door-neighbors. When my parents arrived for brunch at 11:02am, I greeted them at the door...



"There's No Brunch?"

image signature

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sounds Like Life...

Got a call last night from an old friends wife, said, I hate to bother you
But Johnny Ray fell off the wagon, he'd been gone all afternoon
Well, I know my buddy, so I drove to Scullys and found him at the bar
Said, Hey Man, whats goin on, He said, I don't know where to start

Sarah's old car startin to fall apart and the washer quit last week
We had to put Mama in the nursing home and the baby's cuttin teeth
I didnt get much work this week and I got bills to pay
I said, I know this ain't what you wanna hear but its what I'm gonna say

Sounds like life to me, it ain't no fantasy
It just a common case of everyday reality
Man, I know its tough but you gotta suck it up
To hear you talk you're caught up in some tragedy
It sounds like life to me

Well, his face turned red and he shook his head
He said, you don't understand, three kids and a wife depend on me
And I'm just one man, top it off we just found out that Sarah's two months late
I said, Hey, bartender, set us up a round, we gotta celebrate

Sounds like life to me, ain't no destiny
Yeah, the only thing for certain is uncertainty
You gotta hold on tight, just enjoy the ride
Get used to all this unpredictability, sounds like life

Man, I know its tough but you gotta suck it up
To hear you talk you're caught up in some tragedy
Sounds like life to me (sounds like life to me)
Sounds like life

There is so much life going on in my life... and I think that's all there is to say right now.
It's just life. It's just life.

image signature

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fun and Funny Road Signs of the Adventure...

We saw lots of signs along the trip. Eventually I started taking pictures because they were so funny.

This sign said "Leaving Colorful Colorado" - we sped past this sign and so I only got a piece of it in the picture.

image signature

End of the Trip

On the road again... for the last time on this trip, at least.

It's official... back to Colorado.
One last dinner out.
Interesting advice:

Handsome guy packing up the truck for the last leg home.
So excited to see Lexie again!
She is far and away my favorite animal from the trip!

image signature