Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Own Bed, Part 2

Mom, my youngest and I went to the Pottery Barn Kids store at The Summit in Birmingham, AL to look for a bed. 
My youngest LOVES to go into Pottery Barn Kids!
A 5 year old loves a furniture store?...Yes, indeed! 
Have you ever been inside Pottery Barn Kids??  If not, go now.
You'll immediately want to be a kid again so you can lay down on the beds and play with all the nifty stuff.

Anyway, after zooming around the store, we found a bed that satisfied us all and fit our room requirements, and we promptly ordered it for delivery at our home in MS within 2 weeks. 
My middle child called me at work on Thursday afternoon (just 3 days later!) to ask if she could put together the youngest's bed, which had just arrived! 

Now, my middle child has a knack for taking stuff apart and/or putting it together...but I'm always a little anxious when the stuff she's fiddling with is big ticket stuff...you know big screen tv's, the loft bed she sleeps in, dvd's and computers, etc.
So, I pleaded, "Whit, please wait until I get home."
I could hear the excitement and anticipation in her voice as she replied, "But, Mama, I know I can do it...I helped Daddy put together my bed, so I know I can do this one."

I gave in and headed home a short while later...
Starting in the garage, then the hallway to the den and then finally the living and dining area, I saw various piles of stuff that looked similar to this: 



Then, I walked into the youngest's bedroom and saw this:
Please notice all the bed parts, big and small all over my youngest's room.

Please notice my middle child and her best buddy Mr. Screwdriver hard at work, happy as clams.
Please notice my youngest working just as hard playing with Tigger and Piglet.
Please also notice the bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a can of coke on the floor next to my middle child.
Kinda looks like a construction site.

Hey, where'd she get that coke??







My middle child did reach a point Thursday where she had to stop; she had to go to pesky Show Choir practice. So, when I arrived home again on Friday, not only were there various boxes of stuff, there was also a mattress and box springs in my dining area which opens into our main living area. 



 

My youngest's bedroom looked a little more organized after I went around scooping up the trash I could see...I was scared to death I would throw away something important...like the one screw that would hold the entire bed together.
My middle child had finished the trundle that goes under the bed as you can see...looks like a big box...my youngest was already talking about which of her stuffed animals were going to be allowed to sleep in the trundle.




 
My middle child actually reads, comprehends and follows the directions. 
Please imagine how great all of our lives would be if more people did just this.
BTW my middle child is 15!!




 
I did have to remove my youngest from her bedroom from time to time while my middle child worked.
Especially times that required thinking and concentration.
My youngest has a tendency to keep a person from thinking and concentrating.
Must be all the jumping around and squealing she does.
Imagine that.




 
The Head of Our Household's contribution to the "putting the bed together 2 day operation" was to play his guitar.
Never mind that he's on the other side of the house and we couldn't even hear the music.
I think he needs to trim his strings?




With the youngest still banned from her room, my middle child put the bed frame together.
It was at this point in the process that I realized my middle child was really going to accomplish this task...ALL BY HERSELF.
Yes, I held a side or two while she screwed in the screws, yes, I took the pictures, yes, my youngest took care of all the squealing and jumping, and yes, the Head of Our Household even serenaded us with his guitar.
A real family effort, if you ask  me.
But my 15 year old was going to put her little sister's bed together ALL BY HERSELF!!
Holy Smokes!!




This was a thinking and comprehending moment.
She's holding a special package of black screws that are even tied with a red satin ribbon.
Where the heck do these screws go?





 
One of the coolest parts of this bed is the seriously solid pieces of wood that take the place of a box springs.  The wood slats are attached together like a rope bridge...very cool indeed!
Please do not notice the pile of stuff spilling out of my youngest's closet. 
We had to put her stuff somewhere!





Each one of the wooden slats has a hole on each end...a pre-drilled hole that attaches the slats to the bedframe.
Ah ha!!!  That's where all those little black screws go!!!




At this point, I sent in reinforcements.
Please notice my youngest is dressed in a cat suit.
She would like it if you noticed.
Please also notice the laptop on the bed slats...my middle child decided, as if she was an orthopedic surgeon, to get some tunes playing while she screwed in the 20 hundred and 11 little black screws to hold the bones of the bed together.



My youngest wanted to have some kind of contribution to putting her bed together so my middle child showed her how to put the screws in.



I have a feeling I better hide all the screwdrivers.



Awee!! Big sister, little sister :)



With all the screws in place we placed the mattress on top of the slats and rolled the trundle under the bed...smooth ride!




My cat suited youngest shows her appreciation for her NEW bed!!!




My middle child practiced rolling the trundle under and out from under the bed.




Uh-Oh wanted to know what we were going to do with the box springs.




When he found out he couldn't keep the box springs as a cat house, he then decided to inspect the half-opened trundle.




My youngest then tested the arm length needed to reach Uh-Oh from under the bed.
Uh-Oh was pleased to find that the task was more difficult than my youngest had anticipated.
Uh-Oh stored this information for later use.




Gotcha!

To be continued...

Beneigt

Beneigt is the adventurous one...




While it makes for great pictures sometimes, other times it causes great worry.



Beneigt officially belongs to my middle child.
Tonight she brought Beneigt to me and asked if I thought he was ok.
Every time she tried to pick him up he meowed as if he was in pain. 
At first I thought she was just being overly cautious, but then I realized that he really was in pain.
He even bit me to prove it when I tried to look at his tummy.



After being held by her daddy while she cried because she was worried about Beneigt, my middle child was finally calm enough to go to bed as long as I promised to keep an eye on her cat.
Beneigt is curled up at my feet sleeping next to Uh-Oh.

Once my oldest gets home from babysitting, I'm going off to dreamland where I'll hope for a hairball inside Beneigt's belly rather than some other  more serious reason for his discomfort.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

PW's Apple Dumplin's

Each time we've been to my mom's the last few weeks she's sent us home with fruit.  I'm 41 and I still come home with "stuff" when I go to my mom's :)

My kids tell me all the time how they want a Sonic burger, McDonald's french fries or some other junk...but I'm always amazed that if I have fruit in the house, it gets eaten. 

Just like everything else my family eats, everyone has their favorite fruit.  They also have their favorite variety of fruit...my dad, the retired horticulturist, taught me that different kinds of the same fruits are called "varieties." 

I love Granny Smith's, Fuji and Gala (apples of course)
The Head of My Household likes good old fashioned Red Delicious.
My firstborn likes Fuji
My middle child likes Granny Smith's like me but also Gala
And, my youngest likes whichever one you will slice up for her and put in a bowl with a scoop of peanut butter.
While I encourage my family to eat as healthy and as close to the natural product as possible, I do also like to splurge from time to time.  If I'm going to make a dessert, it's usually for a special function or on the weekends only.  We generally have an extra kid or two at our house at least one night per weekend.  I really enjoy my kids' friends being at our house, so I try to feed them as much as possible so they'll keep coming back :):)



Ree Drummond has an incredibly easy but absolutely fabulous recipe on her blog for Apple Dumplins.  I decided to use some of my apples to try out the recipe.  This recipe is a dessert, and as such it has sugar and butter.  Don't read any further if that bothers you.  It didn't bother me though...and it sure didn't bother my kids...they LOVE this recipe!

First thing I did was peel a couple of good sized Granny Smith apples (the green ones)
When I was a little girl my mom could peel an apple so that when she was done she would have one long swirly piece of apple peel :)
Sometimes I can do it, and sometimes I can't...I still have fun eating the peel though :)
Then I cored the apple...I have a little coring do-dad that I use...I've had it so long that I can't remember where I got it...but it does the job.


Then I cut the apple into 8 equal sized slices...why I have a picture of  my laptop instead of apple slices, I'll never know...but you can see Ree's directions on the website in this photo so it's pretty cool. 





Ree uses butter to coat her baking dish...I am addicted to this spray stuff...not for any reason in particular...I'm certainly not a butter snob.  But, I'm amazed at how food sticks to my pans like crazy if I don't use my spray stuff and how food doesn't stick to my pans if I do use the spray stuff.
I'm not a fan of pans, baking dishes etc. that have food stuck all over them. So, whenever possible I use my spray stuff. If I don't have any spray stuff, it actually makes me a little anxious. Case in point, the morning I had to make sausage without my spray stuff.

It all worked out...but I had to soak that pan forever!
I'm not picky about my spray stuff...I've tried bunches and one seems to work just as well as the other.



The dough for the dumplins couldn't be simpler...good ole crescent rolls.
I am picky about crescent rolls...they need to be Pillsbury...
I need to see the little doughboy...
and hear his little giggle in my head. 
Do those commercials even come on anymore?
I've tried "other" brands...they don't seem to be as fluffy...it may be all in my head but I'm sticking with my doughboy :) and NOT sticking to my pans!





I pulled apart my crescent rolls using the convenient little perforations as my guide...one crescent roll per apple slice...very simple....
Then I wrapped each apple slice in its little dough blanket...starting at the wide end so that the flap can swoosh on the top for a little apple dumplin doughboy flair :)





I lined all the little dumplins up in my baking dish...or I tried to anyway...they kept sliding around :)





I melted 2 sticks of butter just like Ree told me to...then I slightly stirred in 1 1/2 cups of sugar...the sugar is not supposed to dissolve in the butter so I didn't panic when mine didn't. 






Then I added 1 tsp. of vanilla to the grainy buttery sugary stuff in my saucepan



After I stirred in the vanilla, I poured that potful of stuff right on top of my dumplins...



Ree told me it would be pretty soupy so I didn't panic about that either...My dumplins were swimming in butter and sugar!





Here's the wild and crazy part of this recipe:

If I remember correctly, this recipe is Ree's mom's recipe.
She uses Mountain Dew in her Apple Dumplin' recipe!!!
Sound funny?
I thought so too...till I tasted it!!! Whoa, Nelly!!
I think the actual recipe calls for 12 oz. or some such amount like that, but Ree used one of these squatty cans...
my youngest says they're "just her size."

I just poured the squatty can of Mountain Dew over my dumplins.


Really really soupy now...


Then, I sprinkled cinnamon on the dumplins...Ree suggests to use as much as you like...so I did.  You should too.



Here's my entire pan of dumplins, coated in cinnamon and taking a nice warm bath in butter and sugar!  What better dessert could one wish for?



I put the dumplins in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the apple dumplins got really nice and brown and even flaky on the top...because of the liquid underneath, the bottom of the dumplins remains squishy and gooey...almost like the inside of a cinnamon roll...

I couldn't take a picture of the finished product fast enough...my hooligans were coming in the kitchen once the dumplins started baking in the oven because they could smell the delicious aroma wafting through the house.  Some crazy kid even talked me into buying ice cream in the dead of winter to go with our dessert.  As soon as the dumplins were ready, they were standing by with their bowls of ice cream ready for a dumplin and some of the goo in the bottom of the pan to be used as syrup on the ice cream. 
I've made this recipe twice already...it's a hit!
And, most importantly, it doesn't wear me out :)


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hurts My Feelings

This is not an academic blog...
This is not an academic blog...
This is not an academic blog...but

This is not an academic blog...but...academics is such a part of my life and who I am that sometimes my academic life explodes into my personal life.

The bomb went off this past Monday when faculty evaluations from last semester were released.

One of my students didn't like me.

I liked her.

She made an A in my class.

But, she still didn't like me.

Since, as I write this, it is 3 days after I read her comments about me, I don't have to tell you that her comments REALLY hurt my feelings. 

Her comments were very specific and 5-6 lines long...OUCH! 

Her sentences were meticulously thought out and probably revised a time or two...Some of her comments about me were absolutely true...but then there were others that I couldn't figure out.  I think the not being able to figure out what she was talking about bothers me a lot more than anything else. 

I'd love to be able to sit down with this student and ask her what she meant.  I'm all about bettering myself.

Another thing that bothers me tremendously is that I know this student.  Yeah, yeah, instructor evaluations are anonymous.  Remember though, this student's comments were VERY SPECIFIC...almost as if she wanted me to know who she was.  Almost as if she had been waiting all semester to tell me what she thought.  Maybe she was revising and editing her comments all semester long along with the essays she revised and edited in my class.

I am enough of an academic to not tell you exactly what she said about me nor give you any specific information about this student.  She will never read my blog, but I am human...and a mommy...so I would never strike back at this student or any other.  I truly care about all of them...even the ones that drive me insane.  My own children...the ones I gave birth to...drive me bonkers sometimes too...and I still love them.  I've grown to expect aggravation from a classroom full of students on a daily basis.  While they are legally adults, 18 years old and up, first and second year college students are many times still children (especially first semester, first year whippersnappers...many of them out in the great wide world for the first time - I "bless their hearts" on a daily basis just to keep from strangling them!)

I do treat them as adults as much as possible...because I teach in a community college we have a great number of students who still need a lot of guidance.  We also still have, within the same classroom (I average 45 students per class in my composition classes), other students who are at the top of their game and need much less guidance.  I try to give all of my students as much guidance and as much leeway as they need on an individual basis.  I also encourage my students to say what they think and to challenge themselves to always be able to logically justify their positions. 

I guess my evaluator student was just practicing what I had preached all semester.

It still hurt my feelings. 

I will not change some of what this student commented on...

I believe and practice structure in my classroom...but I am also flexible when the need arises.

No matter who you are or what your grades were in the past, I'm going to raise the bar for you in my class.  This is college after all.   My job is to take each student from whichever point they are when they join my class and move them to the next level. 

If we miss a week of school for reasons out of our control, I will change the lesson plan; I will retype it for the class and give each student a new copy. 

I will continue to present information in my class the way that I do...with stories, examples, personal anecdotes and as much humor as possible.  I am not a "just the facts" kind of gal and never will be...I cannot and actually am not willing to change my personality for this or any other student.  I'm 41 years old.  I am who I am.  My personality and presentations have gotten me pretty far so far...so to each her own. 

I am not now nor will I ever be known as the easiest teacher on my campus...I will NOT apologize for requiring that students think and actually do some work in my class. 

The things she commented on that I will take to heart and try to be more aware of:

There are some students who don't want to hear my stories, nor laugh at my jokes, nor want to get to know me better, nor want me to guide them anywhere, anytime, anyplace...point taken.

For events that are within my control, I will be more strict about not changing the agenda.  I can see where unnecessary wishy washyness would drive a student who thrives on structure up the wall.

I will try to remember that even though I enjoy what I do, my students are not having anywhere near as much fun as I am as they write and re-write essays.

I will try not to contradict myself...although this is the part I did not understand...she did not give specifics about this.  I suspect this student did not appreciate having to revise essays when she arrived in my class a very good writer from the get-go.  Just my suspicians though. 

I will try to be more aware of the needs of the higher end student.  It's easy to get caught up in what the majority of my students need and forget about the "gifted" ones...I have actually argued this about my own children in their schools. 

I will remember that different students need different instructors; it doesn't mean that one is bad and another is good.  When possible, students should be able to choose instructors whose teaching styles match their individual learning styles...even in college.

Biggest Lesson Learned:

I will not ever again read the comments page of my student faculty evaluations.  I have spent three days in a funk over comments from one student out of the 300 I taught last semester. 

2010 is the year of forgiveness, not the year of funk.


Please hurry Springtime :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Own Bed

My youngest will be 6 in just a couple of weeks. 

Due to the obvious gap in their age differences, I was a much different person when my youngest was born than I was when my older daughters were born.  When my firstborn and middle daughters were born, I read all the parenting magazines and books and tried to follow all the rules.  I worried constantly about whether or not I was doing the "right" thing and whether my mistakes would traumatize and/or scar my children for life. 

Needless to say, neither my firstborn nor my middle child ever slept in our bed when they were babies.   

Unlike my two older daughters, my youngest was born into an established family of chaos...She was a "surprise" and I was adamant that life wouldn't revolve around her.  I was determined that my youngest  would have to "hit the ground running" with our family.  How dare she show up in the middle of our lives!
Taking time off and doting on her was not an option I was prepared to offer; my older daughters were already involved in many activities.  I would take off as little time from work as I could so my students wouldn't have someone else grading their research papers.
(This makes me nauseous to think about today...and guilty).

After my youngest was born, I kept her on my schedule...
except for one incredibly important thing.

My youngest was not a good sleeper.

I love sleep.
I crave it.
I need it. 
Always have.
My mom worried about me when she sent me to first grade because she didn't know how in the world I would make it through an entire day without a nap.
Not much has changed.

It's difficult, to say the least, to "keep on truckin'" with your established family chaos when you've not had much sleep.
Especially for me.

So, one night...in desperation...
I put my 8 week old baby in the bed with me.

I hear Social Services knocking on the door...
Thank goodness there's a statute of limitations on putting your baby in the bed with you. 
I imagine Social Services would be content to sentence me with "time served" since my 6 year old "baby" is still in the bed with me.  


Anyway, I woke up the next morning after putting my infant to bed with me...I was on my back and she was sound asleep on my chest.  I remember realizing that I had actually had a few hours worth of sleep!!!!!!

That was it. 
The End.
It was a done deal.
Problem Solved.

My youngest has been in the bed with us ever since.  

Until this past weekend at my mom's.

My youngest announces on occasion when we visit my mom that she is going to sleep in her bed in the "pink room." (My mom has bedrooms decorated for us all in her house.)

As I do every time my youngest mentions her plan, I said, "Yeah, yeah...ok...sounds good...knock yourself out."
I was on my computer reading blogs and settling in for the night.

A little while later my youngest came in my room at my mom's house and climbed up on the bed next to me (as she usually does a little while after she says she's going to sleep in her bed at my mom's house)

Never looking up from my computer, I said, "Whatcha doin'?"

She said, "Just goin' to snuggle for minute."

Still not really paying attention (mostly because this behavior is very predictable), I simply said, "K."

My youngest stayed next to me only for a couple of minutes and then slid off my bed and went back down the hall. Again, I never looked up from my computer.
All very normal behavior.

An hour or so later, I finally was too sleepy to read anymore so I shut off my computer, brushed my teeth, plugged up my phone, etc.

Then and only then did I realize my youngest was not in the bed with me.  The possibility that she might be in her own bed did not even enter my mind. I just assumed she was still up somewhere watching t.v.

I walked down the hall, and to my utter amazement, this is what I saw:


HOLY SMOKES!

I was scared to death to take this picture.
I just knew the flash would wake her.



The first night after getting over my shock, I chalked it up to a sleepy 5 year old who had fallen asleep while watching SpongeBob...the second night, however, she was back in "her own room" again.

My wise mom said, "It is time."

The next afternoon we went to Pottery Barn Kids and picked out a sweet little twin bed for my youngest...complete with trundle bed for her stuffed animals (or her mommy).  My youngest's new bed is scheduled for delivery on March 3...which is, coincidentally, her 6th birthday. 

I've been waiting for 6 years for my youngest to sleep in her own bed...so why do I feel funny about it??

To be continued...


 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu Monday - Feb. 22

Last week was fast and furious...I made a Butterfinger cake for Wednesday night supper, a new Paula Deen recipe which I will share as soon as I get caught up on my recipe posts.  The only change to the plan last week was Thursday night.  My women's circle at church serves fabulous meatloaf when we cook so my children vetoed meatballs on Thursday night...too much like meatloaf.  My firstborn and middle children also had Show Choir practice Thursday night until...so I apologize again to my stomach for eating McDonald's.  My youngest was thrilled!

Tonight, Monday, we're having barbeque hamburgers and PW's potato skins

Tuesday, we're having PW's chicken fried steak, green beans and mashed potatoes

Wednesday Night - church supper - we're having a benefit supper for a 17 yr. old child who has just been diagnosed with Melanoma (more on this later)...I'm cooking soup, dessert and cornbread...I'm leaning toward taco soup...and a new dessert..we'll see.

Thursday - PW's comfort meatballs

Friday - Homemade pizzas with PW's homemade pizza crust

Saturday - Show Choir competition (I'm working backstage - YIKES!)