Little Thing: Baleadas

Baleadas.  Dang they are good.  Basically a baleada is a traditional Honduran food that is made with a thick tortilla filled with mashed beans and stuff.  My first bite of one solidified what “stuff” is for me – egg, chorizo, avocado, and queso fresco.  There aren’t really words to describe the amazingness of this food, but I’m craving one now.

The amazingness of the food is little in comparison to the amazingness of the person who introduced me to the food.  Because I teach in a VERY diverse area, I have students from all over the world.  Currently, I can name students from Mexico, Argentina, El Salvador, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Madagascar, Italy, Vietnam, the Philippines, Spain, the Sudan, and many more places who sit in my classroom each day.  And after 20 years of teaching, I have students out there in the “real world” from pretty much everywhere else, including Honduras.   That former kiddo is the one who brought me my first baleada, and he’s one of many who have stolen a piece of my heart.

Currently, I have a student from Mexico who has captured another piece.  He is the hardest working student I have met in a long time.  He not only takes care of business for high grades, but he genuinely loves to learn.   I’ve only known him for twelve short weeks, and already he has impressed me with how honorable and gentlemanly he is, and he’s not the only one.  His group of friends is all like that.  Not just smart, but life-long learners.  Not just sweet, but authentically kind.  Not just students, but DREAMERS.

So many of my students were brought to the United States as young children.  They have grown up here, been instilled with the values that Americans hold dear, and live out the Pursuit of Happiness with unadulterated joy.  They follow the rules and they keep their noses clean and they contribute to society and they dream.  They dream of being able to become citizens of the United States and give back to this culture of patriotism and freedom that they have inhabited their entire lives.  They dream of finishing college and learning everything they can and making this world a better place.  They dream of having the opportunities that I had because I was born here.   I dreamed of all those things as well, and every day I get to live out that dream.  Do you know how I get to do that?  I get to do that THROUGH THEM.  As their teacher for one or two or maybe three years, I have gotten to make this world a better place by sending out into this world my students who I have (hopefully) instilled with a set of values that will allow them to continue to become adults who make a difference.

Not going into the Dream Act and DACA and all of the political stuff behind this post today.  It’s something I’m researching and working on.  But for those of you who love me and pray for me and support my endeavors to reach my students, keep doing that.  I’m hoping to embark on something that will benefit not just my Dreamers but benefit our American society as a whole.  I have no physical power, but I have my words, and words are powerful.  Pray that I use them well.

I’m ready to introduce the Food Crew to baleadas.  I’m just saying.

Image result for baleada

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Little Thing: Calories

There is no kind of tired like first-week-of-school-teacher-tired.  By the time school ended on Friday, I was absolutely exhausted.  This weekend, I have watched seven episodes of Game of Thrones, eaten three meals that were off-plan, caught two Pokemon that I had never gotten before, slept for 7+ hours twice, taken one nap, and read half of a book.  But I have to go back tomorrow.  If I’m kicking and screaming in the morning, it’ll burn calories, right?14051693_10154470880024283_4506209180517503074_n

Best macaroni and cheese ever.  I’m just saying.  And I ate both steaks.  I’m just saying.  #sorrynotsorry

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Little Thing: Ollie

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Several weeks ago, my friend Amy asked me to watch her sweet doggie Ollie while she and her roommate were both out of town for the weekend.  Ollie and I have a special relationship (meaning that he gets excited to see anyone who comes in his house, and I take that personally and think he’s excited to see me, so I eat up the attention and love all over him like a doting aunt or something), so I quickly agreed.  During my weekend with Ollie, I managed to meet a cute policeman (who got my phone number!  Because it was his job…) when I set off the alarm and had the wrong code and called Amy and Missy and Traci and Pam and Cindy and finally got the right one from Pam but not before the security company had talked to me over the intercom and sent the police to the house.  I managed to read a book while hanging out with my “boyfriend” (Ollie, not the policeman).  And I managed to get lost(ish) at Bob Eden Park with Rian and her dog Dude when we went for a walk without being aware that the trail doesn’t circle around.  Three miles later and our doggies were pooped.  But it was fun.  I agreed to (and  loved) my weekend with Ollie, not knowing that I was getting a gift (besides Ollie’s attention) in return.  Amy gave me a Massage Envy massage.

Ending the school year was stressful.  When you teach seniors, there are a lot of logistics you have to take care of that I never experienced teaching the younger ones – prom, senior week, early grades for class rank and/or diploma status, last minute recommendation letters for scholarships, and of course, graduation, as well as all of the end-of-year things that every teacher has to do.  And this year, we’re all moving classrooms, which had to be done on the last Friday of school because summer school is happening in our building and was starting the next Monday.

The week before, KD (my trainer, remember?) had gotten me two workouts to do (an Integrated Stabilization Training one and a core one), and I hadn’t had time to do either.  I also hadn’t been able to make it to yoga, so my muscles were taut.  I was a little hobbly in the walking arena, and I was unable to catch the chiropractor to set me straight (pun intended).  In short, I was in pain, and I had to move my entire classroom from one floor to another (see, this is going somewhere…).  If you know me, you know that I’m pretty even-tempered, and I don’t really have outbursts often unless stuff builds up a lot.  Which it had.  A lot.  I had borrowed a flat bed dolly to move furniture, and when it had a wobbly wheel, I shoved it into a wall and yelled the f-word.  Really?  Me?  I don’t talk like that, not even when some jerk hit my car in the parking lot at school (yet another thing I have to deal with this summer) and didn’t leave a note.  But I did.  I cursed in front of another teacher.  One who doesn’t know me at all (great witness for Jesus there, dd).  After wrangling the dolly onto the service elevator at the other end of the school  (because the one by my classrooms wasn’t big enough, another straw on the camel’s back), I apologized, made it to the third floor, and started towards my “old” classroom to load up.  And the wheel started wobbling again.  I shook the cart.  It stopped.  Then it wobbled.  I shook the cart.  It stopped.  Then it wobbled.  So I lifted the back wheels of the cart with the handle, slammed them onto the floor, and burst into tears.  In front of my assistant principal, our head counselor, and three or four other teachers.  Yep.  I lost it.  I wailed, “I can’t do this!  I don’t have a husband to come help me like everyone else does.  I have to do it all alone.  I have to do EVERYTHING alone!”  Hmm…dramatic maybe?  Fortunately, I work with some amazing people, and the next thing I knew, Jered and Drew and another teacher’s fiance had taken the dolly and moved all of the heavy stuff from my old room to my new room.  God bless them.

Maybe I should have written this earlier.  I seem to have sidetracked.  But back to Ollie.  I had a massage waiting for me because of Ollie, that sweet boy.  So after all was said and done and graduation was over and I was finally able to get started with my workouts that KD had sent me, I decided to get my massage.  Here are a few second-person highlights from the session:

  1. You can explain all day how you have severe hypertonicity in your muscles, but no one understands it until they touch you.
  2. You know they sort of get it when they recommend the massage therapist known as the “knot-melter” who gives deep tissue massages and isn’t afraid to dig in.
  3. You know it’s bad when the “knot-melter’s” first word after starting on your back is “cement” and you can hardly tell that she’s digging in with her elbows or thumbs because you’re always in in pain, so this pain isn’t noticeable.  Yet she’s making noticeable grunts as she finds particularly challenging trigger points.
  4. You’re fully aware of the tightness in your legs when there is an audible “pop” as the golf-ball knot in your left IT band releases.  I felt the pain on that one.  Ahh…
  5. You know at the end that you’ve had an amazing massage, but you also know that you need another one soon and that one hour isn’t going to be enough.
  6. You find out that you can use your flex spending account for a membership at Massage Envy.

And this is how I joined a new club that gives me a massage every month because of a sweet dog named Ollie.  The End.

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Little Thing: Batman

Have you ever seen the episode of Friends (“The One With Frank, Jr.”) where they make individual lists of five super-hot celebrities they can sleep with as a “freebie” and no one can get upset?  I’ve seen all of the Friends episodes many times, and this one always makes me laugh because Ross bumps Isabella Rossellini off of his list, laminates the list, and then runs into her at Central Perk.  After the episode aired, my [real] friends and I started a little game when we go to the movie theater called “Date for the Evening.” We each pick a number between 1-5 before the previews start.  The leading man in our “number” preview is our “date for the evening” and no one can get mad.  For instance, if I pick #4, and the movie previewed in the fourth trailer is Matthew McConaughey, then my East Texas boy is my “date” for the evening, and his wife can’t get mad. Neither can my date if I happen to be on one.  Another after-effect of the Friends episode is that I made a Top Ten Laminated list. I call them my husbands.  I’ve un-laminated it and changed it a few times (it’s on Pinterest, so it’s easy to “un-laminate”), but here are the main ones (the last few fluctuate):

  1. Michael Vartan (Vaughn from Alias)
  2. Christian Bale (Batman)
  3. Ben Affleck (Batman)
  4. Matthew Lillard (Shaggy from Scooby Doo)
  5. Joshua Jackson (Pacey from Dawson’s Creek)
  6. Harry Connick, Jr.
  7. John Krasinski (Jim from The Office)
  8. Edward Norton
  9. Jason Dohring (Logan from Veronica Mars)
  10. Jason Witten, Adam Levine, Orlando Bloom (as the elf), David Tennant (Doctor Who)

If you know who these men are, you can kind of see my “type”.  I like tall guys.  I like handsome-but-not-vain guys.  I like goofy guys.  And apparently I have a thing for Batman.  I mean, I like Superman and Wolverine and Captain America and Ironman and Deadpool and all the other superheroes.  But there are two Batmen on my top ten list.  At the top.  And they haven’t been ousted by any other “freebie” celebrity in over a decade.  I like Batman.

So even though the critics hated it and the only people I know who raved about it were comic-book fans, I was super excited about the new Batman vs. Superman movie.  I mean, My #3 Husband. As Batman.  After a round of three Batman movies with my #2 husband, now I would get to see Ben as Batman.  I was stoked.  The movie started on Good Friday, and after our cross service (amazing, wonderful, impactful service every year where my pastor builds a full-sized cross with trees and hatchets and axes and sledgehammers and iron nails while telling the crucifixion story), I went to see it.  I went alone, to a nearby theater, thinking that the late late movie would have ONE EXTRA SEAT.  But no, it was full.  And all showings the next day were full.  In fact, the only showing that wasn’t full was on Sunday morning, and I was scheduled to sing for our Easter service that day.  So I didn’t get to see it.  My attention was gotten and my curiousity was fired up, however, since it seems that everyone else wanted to see it, too (and beat me to getting tickets).

Then comes the next weekend.  My colleague and I had to take our Destination Imagination team to the state competition in Anna, TX (i.e., sweet little podunk town with no hotels, restaurants, or movie theaters), so I had resigned myself to the idea of not seeing the movie for yet another week.  But Fate smiled upon me, and my team was finished performing and we were out of there by noon with eight hours to spare until the awards ceremony.  We had plenty of time to drive to Sherman, eat a massive lunch at Cheddars, prowl around Books a Million, and go see Batman vs. Superman.

Working on less than five hours of sleep proved to be too much for my teenage boys, who fell asleep through much of the film, but not for this girl.  My husband #3 was BATMAN!  And he was going to fight Superman!  I wasn’t sure how plot-wise this was going to play out, but knowing the cast, I figured beforehand that Lex Luthor was going to be behind it.  I mean, Jessie Eisenberg?  He has a knack for playing the crazy-weirdo, so I knew he would be a manipulator.  Honestly, I prefer Michael Rosenbaum (who sometimes makes it onto my Top Ten Laminated List), the Lex Luthor from Smallville, but I had to accept the new one.  No one else I knew was excited about Ben playing Batman, though, except for myself.  I understand, really, I do.  As much as I love him, I agree that he’s an amazing writer and director and just an okay actor.  But everyone else was wrong and I was right.  He was a great Batman!  He played it a little bit differently than Christian Bale – maybe not quite as dark but definitely as in-depth (and hot).  Not as cartoony as Michael Keaton (who isn’t on my list but was a great Batman) or angsty as Val Kilmer (handsome, but not list-worthy) or not-Batmanny as George Clooney (who has made it on my list before, but not as the bat).  Ben was his own Batman, and I loved him in the role.

Superman was good, too.  I prefer the ruggedness of Batman, however.  Superman has always been the “epitome of superheroes”, but he has never been my favorite.  I felt sorry for him in this movie (a direct response that was elicited by the plot), yet I was on Batman’s side.  You were forced to choose sides, another direct response to the plot, and it was well-done enough to make a divided audience.  A few times the action got to the point that I couldn’t tell what was going on, but after a few minutes I could sort it out.  And then Wonderwoman showed up.  And she was bad***.  Loved her.  Wanted to be her.  Too much coolness to handle.  Am now looking forward to her starring in a superhero movie.  She saved a rather cheesy part of the movie where I was having flashbacks to the Cave Troll in Fellowship of the Ring (where my elf, see the list, saves the day).  Overall, besides the fact that Lois Lane’s stiletto heels are unrealistic, I liked Batman vs. Superman and am looking forward to the continuation of this series.  With husband #3 as Batman.

Seriously, I like Batman.

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Little Things: glutes and abs

I’m grateful for glutes and abs.  Seriously.  I know they are important.  And right now, apparently, my glutes and abs are weak. KD, my personal trainer, met with me yesterday and did a fitness assessment.  This time, I chose a personal trainer who isn’t out for my money.  He isn’t out to make me a “hard body,” nor is he someone with no sympathy for me. He isn’t 20 years my junior to where he doesn’t understand aging aches and pains.  This time, I chose someone who is near my age, who is gentle, who believes me when I say  I have the pain levels of a 60-year-old instead of a 40-year-old, and who knows that my goal isn’t to be a skinny minny with no body fat and rock hard abs.  My goal is to be pain-free without prescriptions, to lose weight without gimmicks, and to feel healthier and better as I become not just forty, but a fortysomething.

We started out not by him weighing me or taking my measurements or checking my BMI.  We’ll do that eventually, but he wanted to check my range of motion and endurance instead for this first time.  Really?  Every other time I’ve ventured into this realm, my weight and being told that I’m overweight and getting a “you really need to lose weight” lecture has been the focus.  But with KD, he wanted to see what I was capable of.  First, he made me do squats.  He checked my knee-over-ankle alignment, my back alignment, and my shoulder alignment.  My alignment, folks!  Not my weight!  He didn’t even mention that “by BMI scales [you] are in the ‘overweight’ category.”  Nope.  He wanted to make sure that I could move properly and with the correct form.  He made me do squats with my arms raised to see if I lean forward when I move downward.  He made me do them on the carpet and again on the solid surface to check how my feet moved.  We did squats.

Then I showed him all of my toys.  I’m kind of an exercise-product junkie.  I have two exercise balls of different sizes, two sets of exercise bands, a kettle bell, a jump rope, and a mini-elliptical-walker-thingy, as well as a massage chair, a foam-roller, a medicine ball, and this stick doohickey that I can use on my IT bands and hamstrings that hurts like all git-out.  He was impressed.  Then I told him I didn’t know what to do with any of it.  He was less than impressed.  He made me put away most of it and took out just an exercise band and a blue band-like-thing that I didn’t even know I had that looks like a little-bitty tarp.  He made me lay down on my back and raise my leg and he put the blue thing on my foot and made me stretch it out and move my leg around with it attached to my foot.  Oh my gosh!  It was awesome!  It was exactly the kind of stretching for my hamstrings that I have been wishing I could do!  I had always had the means to do it but not the knowledge.  Then he took me in the back yard and put an exercise band around the fencepost.  He showed me how to pull the bands correctly so that he could see the range of motion in my shoulders and arms.  He made me squeeze my shoulder blades together while keeping the form.  I had to move really slowly in order to keep the alignment correct.  That seems counter-productive to me, especially after watching people in the gym, but KD told me that he really wanted me to concentrate on slow movements with correct form rather than weights and reps and all of that.  He wants me to build endurance.  Endurance people! Not pain and horror like my last trainer!

Next he checked my abs.  NOT a fun experience.  I’ve known my whole life that my abs are weak and are a major source of my back problems.  And I HATE HATE HATE the poochy tummy.  But he was understanding. He didn’t focus on the amount of weight I want to lose or the size of my pooch but on the strength in my core.  I held a low plank for 35 seconds, but after that, my arms wouldn’t hold me for very long on a high plank.  Not a big deal.  He is going to have me strengthen my glutes and abs.  Those are my weak points.  We found that I use my quads for just about everything – lifting, moving, probably even breathing – and that my glutes and abs are very weak.  And it wasn’t a big deal!  He didn’t lecture me or make me feel bad.  He didn’t make me do a million crunches or ab exercises so that I couldn’t stand up straight today (that’s what my last trainer did, as well as made me do 50 pull-ups to where I couldn’t straighten my arms for two days.  I couldn’t even drive).  He just assessed me gently.  That’s exactly what I needed.

Lastly, we talked about cardio and food.  He knows that I’m going to be doing Trim Healthy Mama as my eating plan.  It’s the best I’ve found for being natural and healthy without depriving me of anything.  Blogs about that to come later.  The biggest change right now is that he wants me to eat more often.  I normally eat breakfast at 6 am and have nothing besides my coffee until 11:30,when I have my 30 minute lunch.  So we’re adding in a snack.  Probably fruit since I don’t eat much of that.  As far as cardio goes, he now knows that I hate it and I now know that he’s making me do it and we both know that running isn’t an option.  So this morning, I got up at 5 am instead of 5:30 and I did it.  5 minutes of yoga to warm up (speaking of which, yoga is going to be a major part of this journey, but KD isn’t my trainer for that.  EH is), 5 minutes of tae-bo, and 15 minutes on the walking machine.  I worked up a sweat and my heart rate went up, but it wasn’t taxing or overexerting.  I’m waiting on a text from him now to let me know if he wants me to do more cardio at the gym tonight.  I will do this.  I will do whatever he tells me to do.

All this to say, I’ve started my journey.  I am on a journey to wellness.  To living pain-free without prescriptions.  To strength and agility.  KD is just the first step.  I must choose to do something good for myself (as EH says during each yoga session).

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Little Thing: 40 by 42

I started out with a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I turned 41.  Once I started doing the list, I realized that I would not be able to afford to do them all, so I added a year to it.  I’ve wanted to blog about them all, but I got sidetracked by life, so I’m going to just post an update to the list and hope that I’ll be able to blog more often about it.  There are other little things I want to regularly blog about, too, such as movie/book/restaurant reviews, my journey into painlessness (more about that later), my students…all the little things in my life.  So here’s my 40×42 list:

  1. Go to New York (May 14-17, 2015)
  2. Go indoor sky diving
  3. Share my faith with 40 people (I’m at 15)
  4. Do three 5Ks
  5. Finish my “Girls’ Guide to Guy Things”
  6. Break bread with someone half my age and someone twice my age
  7. Go to Harry Potter World
  8. Try 40 new restaurants (I’m at 30)
  9. Memorize 40 Bible verses I don’t already know (I’m at 7)
  10. Do 40 Random Acts of Kindness (I’m at 11)
  11. Take a class in something out of my comfort zone
  12. Get my CHL
  13. Road trip to visit a friend I haven’t seen in 5+ years
  14. Learn to play a new song on my guitar OR learn to play the ukulele
  15. AMTRAK to someplace I’ve never been
  16. Lose 15 pounds (I’m at 6)
  17. See an Aggie game in the new Kyle Field
  18. Go to one of each: Mavs game, Rangers game (June 13, 2015), Stars game, Cowboys game
  19. See these in concert:  Jonny Lang (May 9, 2015), Harry Connick, Jr. (July 25, 2015), Aerosmith or other 80’s favorite
  20. Meet and have a conversation with a celebrity
  21. Find three local band concerts
  22. Cook a meal entirely of food I’ve never had before
  23. Write an adoption story collection called “Gotcha Day”
  24. Restart my blog and article writing (Here we go!!)
  25. Ride an elephant
  26. Write 40 encouraging notes/letters to people other than students (I’m at 1)
  27. Paint a picture
  28. Give up social media for one week
  29. Pay a stranger’s restaurant bill
  30. Go geocaching
  31. Get a new bed (March 11, 2016)
  32. Go to three museums (9/11 Memorial Museum on 5/26/15, )
  33. Get a cute pedicure in different color combinations every month
  34. Go fishing four times
  35. Visit Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Memorial in Austin
  36. Get out of debt besides house and car
  37. Helicopter ride over DFW
  38. Get LASIK surgery (March 10, 2016)
  39. Think about and possibly get a dog
  40. Is a secret

 

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Little Thing: A Heating Pad

So lately I’ve been hurting.  A lot.  My hips, my back, my neck.  And my chiropractor can’t figure out what’s wrong.  My rheumatoid factor is high (but just barely), and my muscles are hypertonic (super-severely tight).  I’m on a magnesium supplement and use magnesium spray, I’m putting theralgesic on the tough spots, and I borrowed some muscle relaxers from a friend to see if those will help (shh…don’t tell).  But the little thing that I’m so grateful for, especially now that the weather is starting to turn cold, is my heating pad.  It relaxes those muscles.  It doesn’t heal anything, but it sure does feel good.

I turned 40 in June.  I don’t look it, but I do feel it.  I spent the whole month celebrating because I’ve made it this far.  I went to dinner with several different people on different days, I went to see several different movies, and I even got taken to a water park spa and sauna that was absolutely amazing.  The things that most women are afraid of about getting older don’t scare me.  I have gray hairs – so I get my stylist to cover them.  I have very few wrinkles – my Native American heritage and oily skin mean I might never get them.  My breasts are starting to sag a bit and my hips are starting to spread – but a good pair of Spanx and a good bra can fix all that.  Those things don’t bother me.  But the pain.  The pain of getting older scares me.  And if I hurt this much at 40, what am I going to feel like at 60?  or 80 if I live that long?

Sorry.  For a first blog in two years, I probably should have been a little more uplifting.  But yesterday I had to go to our chiropractor on campus and get my neck adjusted so I could drive home.  It was magical.  Then at choir practice last night, my right hip felt like someone was shoving an icepick in it.  I could hardly walk when I stood up.  It’s what is on my mind.  I’m going to go walk around my classroom now and stretch.  And maybe use the heating pad I brought to school.  Heating pads are awesome.  It’s the little things.

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