Saturday, January 30, 2016

Five for Friday...the Great Dig Out

Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up...suddenly...without warning...and you're not sure what day, time, or century it is?  Then you start to panic because you think it's probably Saturday but what if it's not and how did you forget to set your alarm and you don't want to look at your phone because you're afraid that it in fact won't be Saturday it will really be Friday or even worse...Tuesday?!?!?!

Well...that was me this morning.  I literally jumped up in bed, looked around to see how much light was coming through my windows, and tried to make my semi-sleeping brain think as fast as it possibly could to figure out whether or not it was the weekend.  We had three snow days and two half days of school this week so in my defense I had a good reason for my panic attack this morning.    
Winter storm Jonas brought all kinds of crazy to the east coast over the weekend and left us all in a state of confusion.

Snow.  Snow.  and you guessed it.  More snow.  We were all gearing up for the big storm Friday morning.  School was canceled.  Some local businesses and universities we set to close early.  There was literally no bread left of any of the shelves in the grocery stores.  We were all prepared and by mid morning on Friday there wasn't even a drop of snow.  Not a flake, not a flurry, NOTHING.  Everyone was in disbelief and just winter storm Jonas was starting to become a running joke on social media...he STRUCK.  A steady stream of snow began late Friday afternoon and continued all the way through Saturday.  It snowed and snowed and snowed and when we thought it couldn't snow anymore.  IT. KEPT. COMING.  In the end we were left with around 2 feet of snow give or take a couple of inches.   It was crazy!
This was the measurement early Saturday morning.

So needless to say for a few days we were stuck.  Truly stuck.  The governor declared a state of emergency.  The local channels were constantly running an warning from public highway officials to please stay off the roads at all possible cost.  It was snowmageddon.  The only solution was Netflix. I decided over Christmas break I was going to go back and watch Grey's Anatomy from season 1 to present time.  BEST. DECISION. EVER.  I forgot how much I loved that show.  When we started back to school I had to give up my daily routine of Greys, Greys, and more Greys and responsible.  A couple of days in a snow storm and I'm right back on track.  

Finally, almost halfway through the week we began to dig out.  In case you're wondering, we are still digging out but the temperatures rose to about 40 degree which helped speed up the melting process.  Yes 40 degrees.  It was a heat wave people.  Let me tell you.  Here's a look at the sidewalks.

The parting of the Red Sea comes to mind when I look at this.

When I was glancing through some of last week's FfF posts I came across a very cool science experiment using snow from Teach Guide Inspire.  I loved it.  The students tested to see how clean the snow in the back yard of their school was by scooping some up and using a filter to determine if there was in fact dirt or any other particles could be found in snow that APPEARED to be clean.  You can check out her post and get everything you need if you want to do this with 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade class.  In in Kindergarten we did it as a whole group activity.  We talked about eating snow, made predictions about whether or not the snow was clean, and then performed our experiment. 

 My kids were amazed at what they found in the coffee filter the next day.  I'm hoping that they think about that before they take another bite out of the snow.  I just realized I forgot to write the word filter on our chart!! Teacher Fail!  Forgive me.  I was so excited to do this experiment that I didn't double check my chart!
This coming Friday will be my mom's last round of chemo for this part of her treatment.  If you're just tuning in to my blog, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of the school year.  She is also a teacher and we were in our normal beginning of the school year dead sprint when everything came to an abrupt stop and dramatically changed with her diagnosis.  She has been through a couple of surgeries and chemotherapy treatments for the last few months.  She is scheduled for another surgery in about a month with more treatment to follow.  She continues to handle it more gracefully than I could ever imagine.  It is not easy.  Being sick is not easy and chemo is especially nasty.  She has visited the hospital often in between her treatments due to chemo side effects and still she continues to have an incredible attitude.  This past week was her "sick week" and that coupled with the snow storm made life a little more stressful than usual.  We are all continuing to press on with that hope than in a few more months this will all be behind us.  

So there you have it.  Life after winter storm Jonas.  Honestly, after two years of crazy snow storms and negative temperatures we are ready for spring in this part of the country.  Let's hope the groundhog is on the same page! How was your week? 


Saturday, January 23, 2016

FrF Snowmageddon Style

Happy Snowy Saturday! And I do mean SNOWY!  At least if you're on the east coast.  Winter storm Jonas has hit and if you ask me...he's overstaying his welcome.

We were having snow problems long before Jonas arrived.  Earlier this week we were victims of the same 1 inch snow disaster that hit Washington D.C.  We had some unexpected snow, ice, and freezing temperatures during the week that caused major problems for school.  Honestly, I don't think we had a full day of school this week.  Seriously.
Earlier this week I posted about the most amazing chicken fajita soup known to man that I discovered on Kristin's blog.  I made it on my last snow day and I gave a little play by play of cooking adventures.  You can read about it HERE.  There were a few bumps in the road but it turned out BEAUTIFULLY and it's officially one of my favorites.  So after my great culinary success I decided I'm a now a full blown chef to try out another new soup.  

Here it is.  Creamy lentil soup with spinach.  For all of you picky eaters out there who just said "eww" let me tell you it's delicious.  It really is.  It has wine, cream, and potatoes YUM!  Lentils are also a great way to make soup just a little thicker without adding flour. I found the recipe HERE if lentils and spinach are your thing.  If not you can just listen to me go on about how wonderful they are.
Our county is adopting a new science textbooks.  I have mixed feelings about textbooks.  I'm more interested in familiarizing myself with standards and finding the right resources to teach them rather than putting a heavy emphasis on a textbook.  That's just me but some people are a little behind  the times.  I was excited to be chosen for the committee because normally these spots are reserved for more veteran teachers.  So while the snow has been falling this week I've been looking over some potentially new science materials. 
I've been on a cleaning/organizing spree in my classroom since the beginning of the new semester.  It's not part of any kind of New Year's resolution just some that desperately needed to be done.  I decided this year I was going to have a focus wall to give my students more a visual of what we would be learning each week.  This past week I took a big step forward in that endeavor.  I'll show you a little bit of it but just know it is a work in progress.
Winter storm Jonas hit our area yesterday afternoon.  We were expected to get 8 to 12 inches yesterday and maybe 3 to 5 inches today.  This was what I measured earlier this morning.

Almost 20 inches and it's STILL COMING DOWN! Talk about Snowmageddon.  I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up with more than 2 feet of snow.  Yikes! Snow is fun and really pretty when it first falls but it can get pretty inconvenient and ugly pretty quickly.  We've had a couple of bad winters for the past 3 years and I was hoping for a more mild winter this year.  Hopefully this will be our big storm of the year and we can start making our way to spring.  Let's hope!

So as one of my students says to me every day when I walk him to the bus, "that's it." I'll leave you with one last picture of our winter wonderland.  Here' hoping everyone is staying warm and safe and that we can begin the digging out process if  when the snow finally stops.  Are you snowed in this weekend?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Snow Day

Last Wednesday was our first snow day of the school year.  We have had record breaking temperatures in the 50s and 60s the last few weeks.  I was enjoying the few extra weeks of outdoor recess but that all came to an end last week when we were blasted with a little snow and ice.  So what did I do on my day off?  I'm so glad you asked.

I was reading the Five for Friday post by Kristin, A Teeny Tiny Teacher, in which she shared a recipe for chicken fajita soup.  Her description alone made it seem like this was the holy grail of soups so I decided I HAD to try it out for myself.  Not too mention that it was a slow cooker recipe and I mean seriously who says no to that?

Before we go any further let me just start by saying there are two kinds of people in this world..those who love to cook and those who hate it.  I for one LOVE it.  I'm THAT person who grew up cooking with her mom, grandmother, aunts, cousins, and even my uncle who on most days can out cook all of us, he'll love that I said that.  Seriously though, I like to cook and I would even go as far as saying I'm not that bad at it.

The recipe is super simple but if you like to cook, are feeling motivated, and have a snow day... you can make it a little harder.

I decided that not only was I going to make this soup I was also going to make my own cream of chicken soup.  There is a link on the recipe for homemade cream of chicken soup.  It's actually pretty easy.  All you need is milk, chicken broth, and flour.  I opened up some chicken broth and milk and there was a faint, strange smell, almost like sour wine...or was it sour milk?  I honestly couldn't tell.  It really smelled like sour wine but there was no wine in the recipe...nor was I drinking any at the time.  Maybe the milk was sour?  I checked and it wasn't the milk.  It wasn't until the mixture of flour, milk, and chicken broth were bubbling away and practically ready to be used that I realized it was in fact the chicken broth that had the bad smell.


Seriously? Sour chicken broth!?  How does this happen?!?  Does this happen?  I wasn't old.  I've never in my life experienced sour chicken broth.  Has anyone else?

So I had to get rid of cream of sour chicken soup and start over.
Here is the start of my second attempt of milk and flour.
Milk, flour, and non sour chicken broth coming to a boil.
Add some spices, salt, and parsley and there is your cream of chicken soup.  It gets really thick so you'll definitely need more milk than the recipe calls for but I honestly believe it makes a big difference to make your own instead of using a can.

Add the finished cream of chicken soup and chicken fajita soup ingredients to a slow cooker and you're done.  
One of the ingredients is salsa and as you can imagine I made my own.  I can't help it.  I have real issues with preservatives and processed foods. 

Six hours later you have the BEST chicken fajita soup EVER.  
Yes, that is cheddar cheese in my bowl after I just proclaimed my distaste for processed foods.  Okay so I'm a hypocrite when it comes to cheese.  No one's perfect.

Seriously! Go try this soup!  You don't have to be like me and make everything from scratch.  You can just toss in all of the listed ingredients and I have no doubt it will be just as delicious.  You can can check out the recipe on Kristin's page or you can get it HERE.  Let me know how it goes.  It can't be any worse than my sour chicken broth and if you follow the recipe to the T it's pretty much full proof.

Have a great Monday at home!  I always like to acknowledge the people or events responsible for the holidays we are privileged to celebrate at home so I will leave you with my favorite quote by Dr. King.    
Darkness cannot drive out darkness
Happy Birthday Dr. King, although your birthday is not actually today.  May your dream continue to live on.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

FfF First Snow Edition

Happy Saturday and Happy Three Day Weekend!!

It's been a crazy week of relearning our routines, snow, cooking adventures and much more.  Let's get started!

Monday night we celebrated Alabama's 16th National Championship! I've mentioned before that we are HUGE Bama fans in my family.  We usually make the trip to Tuscaloosa once a year to see a live game.  I love to watch them on TV but there is seriously NOTHING like watching a game in Bryant Denny Stadium.  We had to miss our annual trip this year after my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and it was recommended that she stay away from big crowds while undergoing treatment.  We were still able to watch every game this year, whether it was in parent's living room or in the not so comfortable chairs of a hospital room.  Each week gave us a much needed distraction and we have loved every minute of it.  Here is a picture of my mom, my cousin Kaitlyn, and I at the Iron Bowl last year.
We had our first snow day of the year on Wednesday.  We were expecting snow Tuesday night but it came a little early.  I looked out my classroom window just before lunch and it was literally POURING down the snow.  I was sure we would go home early.  We didn't.  The snow showers decreased and we all went on about our day and after school activities.  I went out to run some errands after school and I realized on my way home that I was one of many people of who underestimated the snow that had turn to ice on the roads.  My typical 20 minute commute turned into an hour and half of inching my way home in bumper to bumper traffic.  Roads were closed due to accidents, traffic was being redirected to what we call "the back roads" which were in even worse condition, and I passed several other accidents and cars peppered all over the road as I twisted, turned, and SLID down the winding hills.  Fortunately I made it home safely and I was very grateful because winter driving in this area is both scary and challenging.  I don't have picture from my driving adventure but here's a little glimpse of winter in the mountain state.  I took these during last year's blizzard.
So needless to say schools were closed on Wednesday.  I was able to get my lesson plans ready for this coming week and I also made the most DELICIOUS soup!  I saw the recipe on Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher's blog.  She insisted that it was amazing so I decided I HAD to try it and see for myself.  She was right!  It was amazing.  I'm one of those over achieving people when it comes to cooking and it was quite an endeavor.  I sat down and started to write a post about it but I didn't finish because well it was time to eat.  So you'll have to come back to hear about it.  You can find the recipe on Kristin's post HERE.
Thursday night I went to food and beer pairing with Kaitlyn and our friend Jordan.  If you haven't already figured it out Kaitlyn is my cousin, BFF, and practically my conjoined twin.  We do just about everything together...and we love it.  Anyway the food and beer pairing was AWESOME.  The cool thing about it was that the restaurant and brewery that teamed up for this event are both local businesses.  It was a lot of fun and very yummy and we're really hoping they do it again soon.  
On Friday my mom received her 5th chemo treatment.  She will have one more infusion at the beginning of February to complete her 6 rounds of treatment.  I have no words to describe this journey so far.  It is truly a test of courage, faith, and hope.  I continue to be grateful to all of the people who continue to show so much love and support my mom and also to my dad, my brother and myself.  It's overwhelming and humbling.  I'm also grateful for the doctors and nurses in the breast cancer center, infusion center, and also the many nurses who have taken care of my mom during her random visits and over night stays at the hospital.  These people are so caring and compassionate and they continue to make this journey a little more bearable every time.  
That was my week.  Pretty exciting.  I'm looking forward to this three day weekend.  There is more snow in the forecast so we'll see what happens.  I personally am ready to skip summer spring but for now I'll keep my fingers crossed for a mild winter this year.  How was your week?