Saturday, May 12, 2012

A "Healthy" Saturday morning

It is 11am on Saturday and I already feel like I've done so much!

I woke up at my normal Saturday time: about 745am.  I don't like getting up at 745am, but I do it for a reason.  After throwing on whichever clean, semi-matching clothes are near me, brushing my hair and teeth and putting in my contacts (sometimes), I walk across the street to Chaparral High School to participate in my weekly produce co-op.

I grew up in a world of farms and gardens, fresh and home-jarred fruits and freshly baked bread.  I do not have a farm, I don't even have a yard in which to plant a garden.  Besides, I live in Las Vegas.  We can't keep geraniums alive outside during July and August; I don't see veggies making it.

I also decided that I don't really have the patience for baking my own bread.  I've tried it and I'm actually pretty good at it, but I have to block out an entire day on my calendar.  Something like "the cable guy is coming between 9am and 3pm today, I can bake bread because I can't go more than six steps from my house or he'll show up." I do occasionally bake, but again, we try to avoid adding extra heat inside the house.

So, that leaves fresh and jarred fruits.  Ok, THIS I can do.  At first, Mike and I looked around for farmer's markets.  There was really only one in town and it was a) expensive and b) only open on Thursdays from 8am-11am.  WHAT???  Who can go to that??  Clearly, we couldn't.  We went once or twice when we had days off school, but couldn't afford to buy much.

After some grumbling, a friend of mine told me about Bountiful Baskets.  I'm going to give them a plug here because they are awesome and a co-op - in the true sense of the word.  (
For the low-low price of $15, I get a whole bunch of random fruits and vegetables. All of the money is pooled together and then used to buy large quantities of fruit and veggies to be split among the participants.  There are also weekly options for "extras", such as a whole case of tomatoes or organic breads, or Mike's favorite, a Mexi-pack (a big bag of onions, peppers, cilantro, limes and other things to make Mexican food).

It's almost like a produce "grab bag", because you have no idea what you're going to get.  You can sort of guess based on the season (right now, I'm likely to get a melon and some berries, in the winter - oranges).  It's supposed to be half fruit and half veggies and usually works out that way.  You pay your $15 on Monday and then pick up your basket on Saturday morning at an appointed place and time.  Luckily my place is across the street.  There are hundreds of sites across the country and more coming all the time.

In addition, you volunteer.  They ask that everyone do this once a month, but no one holds you to it.  People like Mike and I volunteer most weeks & there are other "regulars" at our site.  You show up, you help unload boxes and distribute them into baskets.  This takes about an hour, give or take, depending on how many people show up.

For those that have never heard of it and are considering giving it a try, this is what I got today & what I'd probably pay for it at my local (Las Vegas) store:

  • 1 honeydew melon (2)
  • 9 apples (4)
  • 2 mangos (2)
  • 1lb strawberries (2)
  • 1 pkg blackberries (3)
  • 10 apricots (I have no idea... 3?)
  • 1 bunch bananas (1.50) - but to be fair, my site coordinator allows me to change out my bananas since I'm allergic - this week I got extra blackberries.

(as you can see, I'm already at over $15 and that's just the fruit side)

  • 8 large tomatoes (4)
  • 1 head romaine (2)
  • 1 bunch spinach (2?)
  • 6 avocados (3)
  • 5# baby red potatoes (5)  

I will grant, Las Vegas produce prices are extremely high.  For us, this represents about 50% savings.  The catch is, we have to figure out how to eat all of it.  This week will be easy; other weeks we end up with things like jicima, beets, radishes and other items that we just won't eat.

Nonetheless - it's amazing.  Long story short, we love it!!!!!  So again,

When I got home, I decided to make some of the fruit more accessible and made a giant bowl of fruit salad.  I took leftover fruit from last week (1 pineapple, a large orange, 2 kiwi, some small apples) and mixed it with some ripe fruit from this week (some berries and a big apple).  I tossed the whole mix with a lime-honey dressing.  Oh, so tasty!!  I've found that it's so much easier to eat a bowl of fruit salad than have to convince yourself to actually deal with a whole pineapple.  :)

After that, I was feeling pretty good (and healthy), so I checked the schedule for my gym and found that I was just in time to get ready for a dance class.  The class I went to is multi-genre.  Today, we did some disco, hip hop, country, and latin.  Since the whole class consists of learning and doing dance step combinations, the hour flew by - and while tired, I feel amazing! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Working in the coal mines...

Ok, I'll be honest, I don't actually work in coal mines.  I think coal mines would be safer  :)

On Friday, I went back to work after a month of recovery - actually about 2 weeks of recovery and two weeks of hanging out bored silly.  Now, I've been working for three days and it almost feels like three months.  I'm so tired!

My day consists of teaching seven classes, five different titles to approximately 120 total students.  Other teachers reading this are thinking "well, 120 students in one day isn't that many, I have 250!"  This is true, I used to be in a "regular" school with hundreds of students under my wing.  Two years ago, I switched gears and now teach at a specialized school.  Normally, specialized implies gifted students, or those focused on arts, culinary programs, etc.  I WISH that was the case.  I work at a specialized school for students that haven't figured out that the rules of civilized society also apply to them.  My students have been expelled from at least one, if not multiple, other schools.  Some have been expelled for being dumb - coming to school high, forgetting that their weed pipe was in their backpack.  Others have been expelled for being criminals - fighting, stealing, you name it.  These are the toughest of the tough kids.  Their behavior leaves a lot to be desired and academics aren't typically high on the list of things that are important.

To say the least, these students are exhausting.  While it's not what I want to do, I spent quite a bit of time fighting with them to follow the rules.  But, hey, that's why they are there in the first place - they don't want to follow rules.  My rules are not hard:  No cursing, don't talk when someone else is talking or you should be working, don't ask me for passes - you're not going anywhere, do your work.  That's pretty much it.  If a student can manage to follow those four simple rules they will likely do well in my class. 

Despite the exhaustion - once  a while, there is a bright spot.  Yesterday a student returned to give me a status update.  Last year, he started off on the wrong foot and butted heads with me over everything.  After about a month of his horrid behavior, we had a "come to Jesus" talk in the office in the presence of the principal (I essentially told the student that he was smart and much better than his behavior and needed to get his ass in line) and he made a drastic turn-around, almost instantly. He went from failing grades and horrid behavior to As and leading the class in participation and discussion.  I made sure that he knew I recognized this and that he was recognized to the principal.  I'd never seen a 17 year old kid glow like that before.

Yesterday, he came back to tell me that he'd graduated a month early and was enlisted in the US Air Force.  He told me that our talk (or, my yelling, depending on how you want to look at it), was the first time that anyone had ever told him that he was smart and being that he knew he'd been a jerk to me, he believed I was being honest.  He wanted me to know that he'd been inspired to do more with his life.

In that moment, it was all worthwhile. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In today's episode of General Hospital...

Today I had two doctor's appointments.  Early-ish this morning, I got up and went to have some lab work done.  It has been 30 days since my kidney donation and the doctors needed some follow up labs to make sure that my remaining kidney is doing its job as required.  What would normally be a simple trip to Quest turned into an enormous pain in the ass.

I had made an appointment to go at 830am.  Since Mike managed to take both his and my keys to work this morning, I got there at about 835, after digging around for my spare keys.  I will grant that I was late, but that should not mean that what would typically be a 10-15 minute appointment should turn into an hour-long headache.  I spent much of that time standing in line waiting for the guy to take my appointment slip.  Instead of letting people check in (there is an appointment line and a walk-in line), he was calling names off of his appointment sheet, which meant that even though I was third in line when I walked in the door, eight people checked in before me.  I was irritated.

About an hour later, I went to visit Dr. Yao.  We talked briefly & she was very impressed my my lack of kidney donation scars on my back... I then showed her my kidney donation scars on my stomach.  She laughed, but agreed that  the scars on my stomach were pretty minor as well.  With all of that said and done, she agreed that once she sees the results of my bloodwork, I can go back to work!!!  Yay!!!!  I've never been so excited to go to work!

So, I'm going to be home for one last day tomorrow and then back to my classroom!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My demonic spaniel

Today, I'm going to tell you about Lily.
She even has glowing eyes in this picture.  That's not even a mistake or camera-glare.  That's Lily's true evil shining though.  I will grant that most of us say lovely things about our dogs and talk about how they are life-long companions with hearts made out of marshmallows.  Nope, not Lily.  Spawn of the Devil.

From a young age, Lily was always very different from Paris (shown here with a bad haircut and a look for horror on his face that I'm capturing said haircut on film).  Paris is a snuggle-whore to the nth degree, mellow and an amazing dog.  Because he was so amazing, and also lonely, I got Lily.  It seemed like a good idea.

But, where Paris was mellow and laid back, Lily was that kid that ate too much ice cream before bed.    She ran and jumped and barked and whined all the time.  I thought "ok, she's a puppy, she'll outgrow it."  I was right.  She outgrew crazy and went into evil-genius mode.  She hired Paris and Chihuahua-Bill on as minions.  She started with little things, like jumping up onto coffee tables and digging in garbage, but slowly worked her way up to things like moving furniture so she could climb up onto countertops and cross the kitchen unnoticed and mysteriously unlocking her kennel while I was at work. She figured out how to open closed jars so she could eat the things that were on the inside.  One day, Mike came home to find her shoulder-deep into a Costco-sized jar of peanut butter.

Lily can count.  It's creepy.  We typically put two scoops of food into the bowl.  If we just put in one, she'll stare or scratch the food bin until we add the second one.  She's also taken to moving her entire eating area (food dish, water dish, and rug) into the bedroom if she feels we should fill something up.

Lately, it's gotten extra weird.  She's decided that Mike is HER mate and she tries to protect him at all costs.  She growls at me when I get into bed and last night... new level of crazy... I woke up in the middle of the night to find her standing in the middle of the bed staring at him while he slept.  I'm not sure if she's being protective or plotting to murder us in our sleep.  Of course, as I write this, she's curled up in my lap, snoring and looking very innocent.

I don't believe it for a minute.