29 August 2015

My own little slice of heaven

Last night, Baboo came home from an evening with friends at the same time that JJ got off his shift at work which happened to be near the time that X finished his homework.

They all ended up in our bedroom.  On our bed.  They are so hilarious and good natured.  We all just sat there for an hour.  I watched them tell jokes, tease each other and us, wrestle, tickle and laugh.  Oh my, did we laugh.  Eventually, it was time to kick them out of our bedroom and they utterly refused.  More jokes.  More laughter.  Baboo insisted that the Hubba carry each of them down to their beds.  They all pretended to fake sleep just so they could stay in our bedroom, in our bed, for longer.  Finally they all mimicked Winkie-pie's disappointed posture and left our room bent over, with shoulders sagging and sad faces on.

I love that they love us.

How to salvage freezer burnt bread dough

You may find this post helpful if you, like me, purchased 48 loaves of frozen french bread dough for $2 but then had to repackage it to fit in your freezer and you assumed that it would be easy enough to bake it up that you'd go through it quickly, but you never thought about it early enough to give it enough time to rise before mealtime.  Because, if you were to do that, you would end up with about 45 loaves of freezer burnt bread dough.  You might also come to realize that if you were to just straight up bake the bread dough, that the freezer burnt parts don't rise well and makes the bread look lumpy and deformed and that when baked, those freezer burnt parts are too hard to eat and you end up wasting about 1/3 of the loaf.

But don't worry.  I'm here to save you from all that with my experience.  So here are my instructions for salvaging freezer burnt bread dough.

1.  Using lukewarm water, rinse off any frozen ice particles stuck to the bread.  Continue massaging the dough under the water until the outer layers begin to soften.

2.  Place damp bread dough to rise.  I put mine in a 125 degree oven for about two hours because I still never remember early enough to let it rise slowly.

3.  Cover bread dough with saran wrap that has been sprayed with cooking oil.

4.  When dough is done rising, remove saran wrap and bake.

This method works really well if you ever find yourself in that situation.  The bread will rise normally adn bake with no hard spots.  The only we could tell that it had ever been freezer burnt was by an ever so slight discoloration of the bread at the line where the freezer burnt part met the non freezer-burnt part.  It looked like a tiny bit of salt residue but was hardly noticeable.


28 August 2015

It depends. Say Three Nice Things About Me...

That was my response to Baboo when she called this afternoon asking for a ride home from work.  She said:

1.  I have really pretty brown eyes and she has always wanted brown eyes so she appreciates mine.  (I'm not a particular fan of my eyes, but we have one bathroom where when you sit on the toilet, my reflection in the beveled part of the mirror makes me think I have beautiful eyes.  But then when I raise up an inch into the straight part of the mirror that is an accurate reflection, I don't like that too much.)
2.  I made a really delicious meal on Sunday.  (In truth, that was a fabulous meal.  Just chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and a salad.  And warm french bread.  I overate so much because it was that good.)
3.  I am really organized and always reminding her to do things that she should have remembered to do herself, but hasn't.  (I am not organized in any way shape or form.  But I do remind her of things that drive me nuts because she has to do them herself but I can't get them out of MY brain until she takes care of it.)

And then the Hubba said he was leaving the office in just a minute so it turns out she didn't even NEED a ride, after all.  So I totally scored on that deal!

27 August 2015

It was MY French story, only better

So.  I went to my second middle school back-to-school night yesterday.  And I hate to say but I am warily optimistic.  First of all, I've told you how gorgeous the school is with huge windows and natural light.  It's just the kind of place where you really wouldn't mind spending the vast majority of your waking hours.

The curriculum is pretty cool.  First of all, Mack is taking a humanities class.  HUMANITIES.  In 6th grade.  I think that's awesome.  And it happens to be taught in French.  This humanities class mirrors the World History class he is also taking and that is also taught in French.  So when they are learning about current events in history, they are also studying current art and literature and its effects on society in humanities.  And when they are studying ancient Greek civilization in World History, they are also studying art and literature of the Greek Civilization in Humanities.

But wait.  There's more.

Humanities and History is also integrated with their English Language Arts class.  So, for instance (and this is totally made up to illustrate the point because I forgot the real example) when they are studying England in the 1500s in Humanities and History, they might also be tackling Shakespeare's plays and sonnets in English.

But wait.  There's STILL more.

Because even their French language class is connected.  I thought it would be like a regular old French class where they would be instructed on grammar and vocabulary.  But nope.  It's more like an English Language Arts class where they will be studying French biographies and short stories and writing about them.  And you guessed it, it's totally synced with the English, History and Humanities classes, too.  In fact, apparently even the science and math classes are supposed to be all connected as well.

I think that's pretty cool.

Another thing that I (tentatively?) loved was that in every class they said that the district is moving towards assessment based grading.  Where "assessment" does not necessarily mean "test".  So the idea is you've either mastered something or you haven't and the teacher will assess that by projects or classroom discussions or tests or whatever.  As a result, they don't plan on giving out much homework.  Can I put that in bold, all caps and italics?  That's what they are saying.  Not very much homework.  The reason I am only tentatively loving this is because mastery is defined as 80% but they still have a grading system based on your regular A = 90% system.  So I'm not really sure if I've understood it correctly or how this new philosophy will work practically.  But I'm hoping it means what I think it may mean.

The science class seems pretty exciting.  In between every unit, they take a break to do robotics where they build and program (on a computer) their own robots.  Um, what sixth grade boy isn't going to LOVE doing that between every unit???

Ok.  But I know you're all dying to hear about the French.  Mack has History, Humanities and French all taught in French by the same teacher.  She seems nice.  When we joined the dual immersion program in elementary school 4 years ago, it was stressed to us how important it was to have native speakers doing the teaching.  And that was a big selling point for the Hubba.  He didn't want some horrible Francophone with an obnoxious American accent teaching our kids French.  And all through elementary school, the teachers have been native speakers.  I know it's been hard to keep the school staffed, too, because the teachers' visas run out after two years and so every two years the school has to hire new teachers.  From France.

Anyway, Mack's teacher, for all three French classes, is a native English speaker.  And at back to school night, one of the parents very tactfully asked about her experience and how she came to teach here.  She explained how she started studying French in school and just loved it.  Couldn't get enough of it.  So she kept studying it.  Every time she decided that she was going to pursue a different path, she just missed French too much and always came back to it.

Basically she described my own French life.  In fact, I wrote about it here.  I suddenly felt a kinship with this woman and wanted to talk to her and get to know her.  But then she kept talking about she did study abroad and got a master's degree in French.  I know she got at least one of her degrees from the University of Geneva--maybe both?  I wasn't quite clear on that.  And she's done several internships in Geneva and France.  And yeah, it started out like my French Story except it was My French Story on Steroids.  And it made me feel bad about my own French and made me kind of miss all the things I might have been able to do with French myself, if only...

You know, if only I hadn't followed the path for my own life.  While I was getting married and having kids, she was doing study abroads and getting degrees from foreign universities and doing internships.  I wouldn't trade my choices for those choices.  But there's still a sort of longing.  I wish I had had some kind of opportunity in the intervening 2 decades or that I might have some kind of opportunity in the not too distant future.  For me, my two degrees feel like useless albatrosses that really have no business being thrown in with the rest of my life.  But I look at her and she's got this productive, vibrant career.  Her degrees weren't just a waste.

Anyway.  She seems nice enough.  Her French is fine.  The Hubba asked about her accent.  I was about to tell him it was great.  But then I hesitated because when I have spoken to native speakers, there's always a fair amount of energy I have to put into listening to pick up on everything.  It's an effort to listen to a native speaker.  And when she was speaking, it was completely 100% understandable.  So while I think her French was fluent and impeccable, the accent must be American because it was too easy for me to understand.

Something New

Well, I did it.  In regards to my huge family history find that I have purposefully been most quiet about, my husband and I bought plane tickets to Ohio for a family reunion coming up fairly soon.

Here are my thoughts in no particular order:

1.  I have not been on a place since before 9/11.  I was a fairly experienced flyer before then, but I feel a little apprehensive now, not knowing what to expect.  The last time I was on a plane was in the fall of 2000 when X was just a toddler!

2.  I feel like we got a good deal on tickets.  In order to get these lowest prices, we are actually flying in to Detroit and flying out of Nashville.  And I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will also be able to find screaming deals on a rental car and hotels.

3.  I'm worried about leaving my kids for a week. Baboo will be here and will be in charge.  I totally trust her.  However, we have 6 kids  in 5 different schools and they all start and end at different times.  How exactly is everything going to work in the mornings when there is no dedicated parent (me) whose sole job is to get everyone off in the mornings?  How will the little girls get ready for school in the mornings when everyone else is getting ready, too?  I'm already thinking up ways to make meals simple and coming up with people my kids can contact in case of emergency.

4.  It is the longest time that the Hubba and I will have spent alone together since Baboo was born.  I can only think of three times when we have stayed a night away from the children.  And only one time where we have stayed away for a weekend.

5.  It's a crazy family history week we have planned!  We will fly in to Detroit and drive to the town of my birth (I consider Phoenix my hometown!) and spend about a day and a half there.  I am looking forward to seeing my old homes and the homes of my grandparents and visiting graves of people I knew and loved.  Then we will drive to Cincinnati where I need to take care of some family history business and get copies of documents.  The next day is a family reunion in Cincinnati.  After that, we will be driving down to Bowling Green, KY where I have a rich family history.  I'm not sure exactly what will all be on the agenda that day.  Probably visiting the home of an ancestor and definitely visiting a particular cemetery where practically everyone is buried.  The next day we will be driving to Nashville where I will head to the university to FINALLY be able to get a look at a family history book that was written by an ancestor (It's in a special collection and I can't get it through inter-library loan).  I may also be checking out a cemetery and visiting the home of those grandparents.  Also thrown into the mix, the Hubba may be meeting up with some cousins of his while we are there.

6.  We will be gone over General Conference weekend.  GC weekend is huge for our family and to me it feels kind of like missing Christmas or Thanksgiving or a birthday.  The pros are that we can still catch the sessions online or at a stake Center in Ohio or watch/read them later if we need to.  The cons are that there will only be 6 kids at home all by themselves to carry on our traditions.  :(

7.  I wish I still had living family members in these places that I could see while I was there.  But those who are still alive, have moved.

8.  This family whom I have never met are happy we are coming and excited to meet us and hear our story and our info to their larger tree.

9.  I'm worried about how the little girls will do with us being gone.  Normally, it would be no big deal.  But they will still be riding the tidal wave of grief of having JJ leave home just the week before.

10.  We are not just leaving our family, we are also leaving our business.  I worry about that.


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