Category Archives: Kids

Life as an….established….

Nothing stays the same, but change. -my mom

I have been wondering a lot lately about the choices I have made in my past.  We make choices everyday, all the time.  Coffee or tea.  What to have for lunch?  Where to live?  Do I go on a date with him?  Do I go on another date with him?  Do I marry him?  Do I go right or left?  What job should I do?  Kids?  What shoes to wear? What time to go to bed?  Do I like my hair color?  Choices. Everyday.  All the time.  Some of the more important ones for myself have included: My education.  Where I want to live. Do I buy or rent? Friendships.  My job.  What about my insurance?  Relationship.  Financial issues. Parents.

I am at a time during my life where I can make big changes.  I am graduating in May.  Once I have my teaching certification I can move anywhere.  Should I go across the country?  Around the world?  Do I stay local (where a lot of my family is centered).  I don’t have a house payment holding me down. I don’t have children.  I have the option to leave.  I came into this town almost 8 years ago as a college freshmen.  I thought I would complete my 4 years as a college student in a college town and then move.  That track changed pretty quickly. My sister and her husband lived here.  We are very close (even if there are times when we don’t talk as much as we would like, I love her and she is my best friend).  Then my mom and pops moved here.  I have lived with them on and off over the years, and I honestly imagine not living in the same town as them.  They are my rock and my best friends.  After I graduated I found a few jobs, and living with my ex-boyfriend at the time.  I thought life was good, but I knew I was missing something.  My career.  I believe that your career does define you (along with many other traits).  Then the time came, do I stay here…or do I move?

I decided to do the most logical thing, I sent in my application to go back to school.  I was wishing and praying to be accepted in the Elementary Education program.  I remember the day I found out I was accepted.  Ironically, I was wearing the Hawk’s colors of black and gold…and I knew it was meant to be.  I was going to become a teacher.

Now that I am almost done with my program the question is up again, do I stay or do I go?  Some items have stayed the same, others have changed.  Now my sister and her husband have a beautiful home filled with my amazing 5 year old niece, and crazy (but adorable) 2 year old niece and nephew who are twins.  I have 4 other nephews that are hours away from me, and I miss them like crazy.  How could I leave these 3 munchkins?  Then there are my parents.  They still live here also, but over the years I have become more close with them.  Which I didn’t realize would be possible….but my mom and I talk to each other almost every day.  And I call my pops for advice and to just chat all the time.  I need to clarify that when I say pops, that means my step-dad.  He came into my life as a blind date for my mom.  My older sister and his daughter set them up on a date, and they have been together ever since.  I was only 12 and he jumped in.  What an awesome time to “gain” a daughter.  Yes, he and I have had our bad moments in the past, but I adore this man and I never want to think about him not being my dad.

As for my career…I am of course working on my teaching certification  but to pay the bills I have been working for the city for the past 2 and a half years.  I work in a parking lot as a cashier.  This job is wonderful.  I am able to do my homework while I work, and I am offered benefits.  This job has been a main reason that I have stayed here.  I know that I would love to get a job locally once I graduate, but teachers don’t leave their jobs around here.  The school that I am in for my classes is in a really good neighborhood and I love the community in the school.  My CT told me that on day one, she could tell that I have the ability to connect with the students and I feel comfortable working with them.  In a short amount of time and words this validated my choice of going back to school to become a teacher.  How wonderful would it be if I was able to get a job in a school that I have already worked in for almost 6 months, and then be offered my own classroom!

Here I am in “my” 2nd grade classroom.  I love these students, and they are teaching me how to become a wonderful teacher.

Making a difference…. Each day I get up, get ready, head out the door, and make my way across town to head into the classroom.  I love how on the mornings that I am sleepy or cranky my students make me smile immediately and then I am in a great mood for hours after I tell them goodbye.  Working with the students each day is amazing.  I can see their progress.  I have a rapport formed with them.  I am able to create my own lesson plans and teach them.  I love the fact that I am working towards my career that I can’t wait to do everyday.

So I have established myself here.  I don’t own a house or a condo, I rent.  I have my routines that I follow each week.  I have my favorite spots to get coffee, and they know me.  I have friendships that have formed since I have graduated.  I feel as if I am a “townie”…not a visiting college student.  One of the major questions that I feel like almost every person my age asks themselves is…”Is this all there is?  Is this really going to be my life forever?”  I am there.  I am wondering this.  I am happy currently.  I love the way my has formed into what it is now.  But is this really all there is?  Do I want more?  Or do I stay with what I  know?  If it is about comfort only, I stay.  I graduate and find a job at a local school.  I buy a house and continue to live in this town until…well for the years to come. If I move and leave, wow….I’m not sure if I am ready to even have those thoughts to come out into written words.    I would guess by this feeling alone that I am ready to stay here.  To be an official townie.  This town, that was once seen as a college town to me would then become my official home.  I think I am ready for this step. For this moment.

How do you know when you are ready to settle?  Which I do not like using that word..settle…it seems like you are just letting things happen because it is the easy way out.  When really, if you settle you could have thought out your choices and then make the best option for your life.  Why is that considered  settling?  I would rather say decide, confirm, or establish.  Yes, I believe I want to establish my life in the current town I am in.

until again, alc

School has begun and my life has now been shifted.

I am running out the door to class, but I wanted to put one photo as a little preview of what my next post will be about. (which I hope to complete tonight!)  So here it is and I hope you come back to read about the full story 🙂

And no, this photo was not staged.  I was just very lucky with the shot.

until again, alc

Out in the Garden

Living in the Midwest has taught me many values.  Respect each other.  Love.  Take care of each other.    Be happy.  Try to not stress out with the little things, but instead take a deep breath and relax. Keep your family and friends involved in your life.  Try to live off the land.  In the past year and a half I have become more connected in the city I live in.  I have been here for years, but some people think it is nothing but a college town.  I disagree.  This city is my home.  My parents are here.  My sister and her family are here.  My grandma is here. I know the side streets (maybe not all the names but I know the area 🙂 ) There is a chance that I will get a job here after I graduate in May.  I could buy my home here.  I could get married and raise my children here.  That is a big idea to get my head wrapped around. What if I should leave for a few years and then come back?  I love Midwest values.  I love the life I have had thus far.  I love the childhood I had.  I want to be able to keep those values, and possibly this environment.

Becoming more comfortable in this town has allowed me to meet more “locals” and this in return has keep me more grounded.  My family has always been into gardening.  I enjoy it, but I have never had a real garden of my own.  I haven’t owned my own house yet, and I have lived in apartments since I moved out of my parents’ house.  I am now in a rental house, and I have a fair amount of plants in pots, and I have fixed a few flower beds…and one tomato plant…but no garden.  Yesterday I went out to a garden with my sister and her little ones.    Her friends purchased about 40 acres of land a few years ago, and they have built their home and created a garden.  They said that my sister and her family can pick as much as they would like from the garden, and in return they help keep the garden and can/freeze the produce.

While we were driving up the lane to get to the garden, we had to stop and back up…it was a little muddy and instead of getting the car stuck we decided to get out and get our feet muddy instead.  While my sister was parking the car she told me to hop out and see if that was a turtle or frog out in the road.  I was standing there searching for this animal, and I couldn’t see anything.  I couldn’t find it.  And then I did.  How my sister spotted this tiny guy is amazing.  It was an adorable baby snapping turtle.  He just sat there and stared up at me.  He didn’t run away immediately.  Estelle was able  to see him, and I took a few photos and a video.  Then he ran over to the side and we went on our way up the hill to the garden.

Just a little cutie! Can you spot him?

We went out with a mission of picking tomatoes.  Or “matoes” as the little ones call them.   Hazel did really well helping me pick cherry tomatoes as T worked on the monster roma tomato plants.  Gabe came over and showed me that he picked a green bean, so we picked those too! Estelle was eating a tomato like an apple.  It was quiet and peaceful.  The color green was everywhere. This is how a summer day should be spent.   With your family.  Doing something that doesn’t cost a ton of money.  Something that will benefit you in the long run.  (My sister has made jars and jars and jars of tomato sauce, tomato soup, pizza sauce, stewed tomatoes, and salsa is on the way.) I was able to bring home fresh tomatoes and basil, and tonight for dinner I am having the best salad ever.  Here is the directions for one of my favorite Midwestern salads!

Tomato Mozz Salad:

  • Tomatoes (fresh from a garden is the best)
  • Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Fresh Basil leaves (again from a garden is the best)

Directions:

  • Cut up the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese into small chunks
  • Slice the basil into small pieces
  • Put it all in a bowl and add in dressing (as much or as little as you would like)
  • Mix it up (or shake it) so all the ingredients are covered with the dressing
  • Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes (I like it best cold, but room temperature is good too)
  • Enjoy!

Here are some photos from the amazing adventure I had with my family.

The little ones and T working away

Estelle checking out the corn

Gabe eating a green bean.  Can not getting any healthier than that! Straight from the plant, straight to his tummy!

Myself with fresh peppers in hand

  I have amazing people in my life that influence me to make each day better than the past.  They know I have some bad habits that I need to change, and I am very lucky that they are supporting me in my changes.  What can you do to make your day better?

Until again, alc

Hamburger Cookies (make them for little ones or for big ones!)

I was lucky enough to make these in one of my summer classes this year, and I had a blast making them.  In my course we had to work with a partner and write a lesson plan and then teach it to our fellow classmates, as if they were actually the students in a grade between K-6.  Two of my fellow friends taught us (as 2nd graders) about assembly lines through making these cute and delicious treats. There was 7 of us in a row and each of us had a very important part to do in order to make the awesome finish product of the Hamburger Cookie.

Ingredients needed for Hamburger Cookies: 

  • Vanilla wafer cookies (these can be name brand, Nilla Wafers, or store brand)
  • White frosting (you can make your own homemade, or you can get it already made in a can)
  • Food coloring (you will need red, yellow, and green)
  • Wax paper
  • Mint cookies (again, these can be name brand or store brand. Or another form of thin chocolate cookies would work)
  • Coconut flakes

Steps:

  • Color the frosting red for ketchup, yellow for mustard, and orange (made out of yellow and red) for the cheese
  • Color the coconut flakes green for the lettuce (you can do this easily by putting the green food coloring into a baggie with the coconut flakes and shake it until the flakes are dyed green.
  • Next take one of the vanilla wafer cookies and put on the red frosting on the cookie.  (This will be the bottom bun)
  • Then place the thin mint chocolate cookie on top of the red frosting.
  • Add the yellow frosting on top of the cookie.
  • Place the green coconut flakes on the yellow frosting.
  • Take a new vanilla wafer cookie and put the orange frosting on one side of the cookie.  Make sure you put the frosting on the flat side, because the rounded side will need to be on the very top for the round bun.
  • After you have put the orange frosting on the “top” bun attach it to the rest of the hamburger cookie.

The layers can be mixed around depending on how you would like to create the cookie, and if you would like to add more or use less of some of the materials that is perfect too!  The best part about these adorable cookies is that you can change them to fit you, or the people creating/eating them.  On the internet there are a lot of different recipes on how to create these.  For example when I made them we used green frosting as the lettuce, but when I make them again I will use green coconut flakes instead.

You can also make these yummy “french fries” to go along with the burgers.  I have not made these yet, but here is how to make them.  (I can’t wait to make these too!!)

Ingredients needed for French Fries:

  • 1 (10 ounce) package peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • Frosting dyed red
  • Paper muffin cup liners

Steps:

  • Melt peanut butter chips with milk in the microwave, stir until smooth.
  • Then pour the mixture into a foil lined and greased 9 inch baking pan.
  • Let this cool completely at room temperature.
  • Lift out of pan and invert on a cutting board.
  • Remove the foil, and the cut the cooled mixture into about 3 inch by 3/4 inch strips.
  • Fold the cup liners in half (pressing out the creases) and then in half again.  Point under, and then use this as the holder for the fries.
  • Add on some red frosting on top (or on the side) for some ketchup.

Here I am enjoying my burger! Yummy!

 

I didn’t make these fries, but I wanted to make sure to include a photo of them completed for a reference.

 

Enjoy making these, and post a photo if you do! I would love to see how you used this recipe as a starting point, and then what you did to make some changes.

 

Until again, alc