Thursday, August 29, 2013

So today this happened...

I'm not very political. I'm not very controversial, or confrontational, or even very ballsy. I used to have a bit of a mouth in my twenties, but honestly, I'm pretty much just a run of the mill wuss when it comes down to it. I've never been in a fist fight, never screamed at anyone in public, don't fall into fits of road rage.

But today this tiny thing happened that made me so pissed my hands literally shook. I posted a link to this article on my Facebook page, shared via a fellow teacher friend. It's a commentary about public vs. private schooling and while the title is extreme, and it is dubbed a "manifesto" by the author, it makes some interesting reading. It's worth taking the few minutes of your time to actually read. Like the entire thing. Unlike the fellow who took it upon himself to send me this little gem: 

"I'm an acquaintance of _____. I read the article all the way to the part that I should send my children to public school even though they and their grandchildren would suffer but eventually it would be for the good of all.
You are a freaking idiot. Seriously. Quit posting."
Um. WHAH? Yep. A family member commented on the link, which posted it to her feed. This lovely gentleman saw her comment and then saw fit to send me the above message. Now let's not be naive here. I am not ignorant to the fact that trolls exist throughout this bnig wide world of the Internet, nor do I pretend that my own posts are immune to criticism. However, I was floored. More than that. Reading that message instantly set my blood to boiling and it was all I could do not to write my thoughts out in a reply. "Who the FUCK do you think you ARE? Idiot? You sir, are an asshole to the nth degree."
Instead, I waited a beat, took a breath, and wrote this: 
 "Actually, I am an educated professional with a degree in education, who went to public school and has taught in both private and public schools in RI, NJ, and MI. I am very knowledgeable about the subject and am certainly entitled to my opinion. I am also entitled to post anything I like on my own personal Facebook page. I certainly wouldn't expect that acquaintances of my family members would then privately message me with hateful statements when they don't even know me. I find that to be incredibly rude and uncalled for. You also missed the entire point of the article, which is meant to inspire a discussion about long term change in public schools. It also clearly states that children and grandchildren of wealthy families won't actually suffer from public educations, as their families can afford to be involved and effect improvements. You are certainly entitled to your opinions on education a well, and to share them with your own family and friends on Facebook, but you don't need to send them to me along with your negative comments."
I could have said so, so much more. 
Instead, I sent my reply and did what any other intelligent, pissed off, modern day person would do. I Googled him. He's the regional manager of a company worth $250 million. Good for him. And yet it's not surprising that the bully who messaged me also happens to fit into the exact target audience of the article. By the way, he probably doesn't think of himself as a bully. Especially since he sent me this: 

"You're right and please accept my apology. I just get very angry and frustrated when I hear people like you try to dumb America and try to make us all "equal". That's not the fundamentals and principals this country was founded on and I refuse to accept this country being socialized by this idiot in Washington. Having said that I lashed out at you unnecessarily and for that I am truly sorry.

Did you see that? Mixed in between the "my apology" and the "I am truly sorry?" Go ahead, go read it again! "People like you try to dumb America." Yes. Because that's exactly right. Public teachers try to dumb America. I must be a socialist. Oh, and don't forget to toss in a little dig at the President. Because that's the kicker, right? Please.
I'm so torn between ignoring this last note, writing something scathing, or just writing "apology accepted, douchebag." None quite capture my current feeling. I'm not a bully though, so I could just passive aggressively flame him on Twitter, or I could let it go. 
And there it is. Deep breath.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to ski-zool, sort of

Jenny, these are for you!
It is so very strange to see all of the hubbub of back to school madness swirling around me and to not be a part of it at all this year! No back to school shopping for new clothes or classroom decorations, no organizing bookshelves or planning lessons. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

It's nice, actually, not to feel stressed and nervous about setting up a classroom, settling in new students, or meeting new parents. It's also sad. I do miss a lot of what made me happy to be a teacher: amazing kids who actually loved English, hanging with my bad-ass staff buddies, and feeling challenged at my job. But I have to be really honest at this time of year. There is a LOT that I don't miss. People undervaluing my career. Working endless hours at home to prep and grade papers. Defending myself to helicopter parents. None of those things make me want to go back to work.

I have come to realize that many of the things I adored about teaching, I can still have. And without the negatives.

- I can still surround myself with like minded people and have discussions about a wide range of topics (yes maybe those topics may occasionally be Sandra Boynton instead of Shakespeare, but still).

- I can be inspired and creative every day. Often the artistic side of me felt pushed into the background by the language lover in me at school, so being at home has helped me foster that much more! Jude is the best guinea pig and student I've ever had. He'll try anything and never tells me I'm lame.

- I can still inspire and create with kids. I'm working on expanding this part, as my current focus is clearly on Jude, his small circle of friends, and the day care kiddos. I am thinking of starting a Mommy and Me art/story class, so that would be a nice push in that direction.

- I can still read. And write. I do miss my creative writing class, where I would sit with my students and actually write for 30 minutes daily. It was incredible. I don't know why I never thought to do it on my own! I bought a new journal, visited the adult stacks of the library (alone!), and am now thoroughly enjoying a small amount of book nerd me time every day. 

I have decided to embrace this September as a time to get out own little play-school at home refocused. We'll hopefully be welcoming some new friends to the day care, and getting that class I mentioned up and running. Jude is now a super active, curious, and intelligent toddler, and thanks to him, I am a far better teacher than I ever was before. I just never realized that being a mother would make that happen. Teaching your child how to, well, how to everything, puts classroom practice and training into real perspective.

We'll just see how long I can hold off on introducing him to iambic pentameter.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lucky duck

I'm pretty lucky.

I tell myself this often.

Most often on the days when my normally wonderful toddler decides to do a fully normal toddler behavior, like slither into the bottom of a police-car-shaped shopping cart and lick the possibly-E.coli-covered steering wheel that is sticky with week old who-knows-what. Moments after he intentionally dumped a cup of water on his shirt, shorts, shoes, and the floor of the market. All while singing loudly about how "luck" rhymes with "duck" and "cluck" and "tuck" and, you guessed it, "fuck", and smiling at old ladies. Yup, I'm lucky.

I have a healthy, happy, active little boy who keeps me on my toes every day, and it's awesome. The trials are minor for the most part, and a healthy dose of added patience mixed with a touch of creativity goes far to keep me from forgetting how great we have it. Being grateful is something I wasn't always good at, but having a kid put that into perspective for me. I have nothing to complain about.

Don't worry, there is a recipe coming :)

In a moment of creative problem solving, we took a visit to the library. We checked out the book Oliver's Fruit Salad and now Jude is obsessed with making big bowls of fruit
salad. This is nice, since for months the only fresh fruits that he ate consistently were apples and bananas. I was forever buying pineapples, berries, or melons when he asked for them at the market, only to have him ask for something else once we were sitting down to eat. I started getting irritated, bothered by throwing away spoiled fruit, stressing about wasting a few dollars, worrying about the lack of vitamin C in his diet.

And then I realized I was being stupid.

Almost every time I feel overly stressed or worried about something with Jude, it's because I am being stupid.

I take a deep breath, remind myself that he is fine, and I am lucky. Then we have a big bowl of fruit salad with a little of this incredible fruit sauce on the side, because nothing makes my kid happier than dip. We whipped up a batch of this to bring to dinner with friends, after I realized every recipe for fruit dip on Pinterest had cream cheese and marshmallow fluff in it. This is better for you, yummier, and prettier, and your little can help. Jude especially likes squeezing lemons, since I tell him he has to do it with his eyes closed. He gets it everywhere, but he also gets super excited. "I am SO LUCKY to have a lemon!"

Banana Cream Fruit Sauce

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c. sour cream
1 frozen banana
zest of one lemon
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tbls. powdered sugar
1/4 c. vanilla soy milk

Add all ingredients, except soy milk, to your food processor bowl or blender. Pulse just to combine. Your mixture should be thick and may be a bit chunky at this point. While processing on low, add milk in a thin stream until sauce has reached a smooth, pourable consistency. Serve drizzled over fresh fruit or cake, or as a dip.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hello Fresh! (Review and Giveaway!)

Have you heard of Hello Fresh? If you are a sub box junkie, you probably have, but if you have yet to join the subscription box craze sweeping the land lately, you should listen up. How about fresh ingredients and recipes for three meals delivered to your door weekly? All you have to do is follow a few steps and dinner is done in less then 30 minutes. No shopping, no planning, no super skills required. There is a Classic box for omnivores and a Veggie box for herbivores. We tried one of each. The branding is cute (and I'm a sucker for cute branding), and the food arrives nicely organized and cooled by a very funky cooler box. Yes, we kept the cooler box, and the reusable freezer packs inside (hey, I'm thrifty!).

Each box includes labeled bags of ingredients for each meal, and a colorful recipe card with step by step instructions for preparing each meal.
 As soon as I open my box, I pile the ingredients for each meal together and pull out anything that won't need refrigeration. Shelf space in my fridge is prime real estate, so I don't shove anything in there unnecessarily. Anything that needs to be cold goes into a large pasta bowl (one for each meal), and I slide them into the fridge in order of how I will cook them. The recipe cards are clipped to the side of my fridge with a magnet, and everything else goes into the pantry at eye level in a little pile. OCD? Perhaps. 

Then the fun part, getting cooking. The recipes are very simple, and none take more than 30 minutes, so they are perfect weeknight fare. However, if you are clueless in the kitchen, read carefully. I have noticed that a few of the cards missed small details in the instructions. For example, a chicken meatball dish required cooking chopped scallions and setting them aside, but then they never reappeared in the instructions. The photo of the finished dish on the card actually showed raw scallions as a garnish. I ended up folding my cooked scallions in to the meatballs, so no big deal, but again, if you aren't someone who normally cooks, it could mix you up.

That said, I am not sure advanced cooks would be head over heels for the recipes either. They are healthy, simple recipes, nothing that will stretch your culinary imagination. The Asian Sloppy Joe sauce was simply tomato and soy sauce. I added shredded carrot and zucchini to the onion and garlic included in the box to kick up the veggie component. In the end is was delicious, and Jude scarfed down two huge servings.

All in all, I believe that the best customer for this company is a busy family that is interested in trying something aside from the typical meat and potatoes Americana for dinner, but who isn't so advanced in culinary feats that they'd be bored by fresh ginger and soy. It is amazing if you are short on time, and need something healthy and new.

Sooo, is that you? If so, and you are interested in trying out a Hello Fresh delivery, I have a giveaway for you! I have one Hello Fresh Gift Card worth $25 to get you started!

You may earn up to 4 entries for this giveaway:

1 Entry for leaving a comment on this post, just tell me why you'd like to try Hello Fresh!

1 Entry for liking Jojobean Designs on Facebook here:

1 Entry for Following Jojobean26 on twitter and tweeting about this giveaway.

1 Entry for following this blog via GFC.

Please leave a comment for each of the above!

Thanks and good luck!