Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gotta Share!


I can't believe it! Wow! If I had known it would turn out even half as well as it did I would have documented the process with my camera. I will next time, (and there will definitely be a 'next time',) but I can't keep this to myself!


My husband has a new job this year and it is taking loads of his time. I am happy to let him put in the time because a)he loves it and b)it won't always be like this. He is spending time with G in the evenings and once she is in bed he works from home. Well, we both do, but I finish HOURS before he does. Since I can't actually help him with his work I have decided (timing would allow it, but I am not calling this a 'New Year's Resolution') to do more than my 'share' in the kitchen.

What am I doing? The dishes every night…. Well, let me back up.

Remember, we live overseas. One of the many benefits of our lifestyle is being able to have a 'helper'. We hire a woman to come to our house, twice a week, for a couple of hours each time, to clean and cook. So, I don't do the dishes the two nights before she comes. And I don't have to cook every night to ensure a home-cooked meal.

Parking Garage Yellow

I am also doing more meal planning and preparing. Since I can't drive here, I make sure I put what I need for the week on the grocery list before my husband's Friday (remember our weekend is Thursday / Friday) trip to the store. (He did most of the grocery shopping at our last school too, but if I didn't have it all together I could hop in the car and take care of the last minute items.) This way I am not asking him to take the time on a weekday evening (for us Saturday - Wednesday), which would make his nights even later.

Anyway, on with today's story…
This week I picked out a Crock Pot recipe called "Savory Chicken and Oregano Chili". It calls for two cups of shredded, cooked chicken. Easy, I thought. I will have him pick up a little, cooked chicken and I'll shred it and throw it in. Except he hasn't found a place that sells little, cooked chickens here. When he called from the store (very typical) to inquire I told him to get a raw one and I would cook it.


I am finally getting to what I have to share. I went online (I especially like this website for slow cooker recipes) to figure out if and how I could cook the chicken in my Crock Pot. I ended up simplifying the ideas I found. This is what I did. Are you ready? I will finally get to the point. I put the chicken in the Crock Pot (breast side down since that is how I roast turkeys), put the lid on, turned it on low, and went to bed. 10 hours later I reluctantly took it out and OH MY GOODNESS! The meat literally and completely fell off the bone. I tore it apart and threw it back into the crock pot with the fixings for my recipe and went to school. 10 hours later we came home and dinner was fabulous. Even G, at 2.5, had 3 helpings.

So, I gotta tell you.
If you need to cook a chicken, toss it in the Crock Pot and walk away.
That's it!

(And it took me 593 words to tell you that one, simple point.)



laptop photo credit
shopping cart photo credit
Crock Pot photo credit

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Inspired to Link


SOPA and PIPA Explained in Plain English [Infographic]
By Jeffrey Thomas at Tech The Plunge

It’s hard to believe that anyone in the educational technology world is not aware of the proposed SOPA andPIPA laws. However, sometimes it is difficult to understand exactly what is going on.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Grace’s All Time Favorite Books

As of right now and in no particular order…

Everywhere Babies By Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee

My son's favorite books from 2 to 2 1/2One Ted Falls Out of Bed By Julia Donaldson and Anna Currey

The Hiccupotamus (Board Buddy)Hiccupotomus By Aaron Zenz

Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That GoRichard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go By Richard Scarry

Goodnight Moon Big BookGood Night Moon By Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

Sheep In A Jeep By Nancy E. Shaw and Margot Apple

“Grace Books” By Mommy and Shutterfly

Belly Button Book (Boynton on Board)The Belly Button Book By Sandra Boynton

Hurry! Hurry!Hurry, Hurry! By Eve Bunting and Jeff Mack

Rub-a-Dub SubRub-a-Dub Sub By Linda Ashman and Jeff Mack

And If the Moon Could TalkAnd If the Moon Could Talk By Kate Banks and Georg Hallensleben

“Pater and Grandma Tina Books” are Hallmark Recordable Story Books
She LOVES hearing them read to her. (They alternate pages as they read.) And since we are on the other side of the planet most of the year this connection is really important.
She has this one Bright & Beautiful, this oneThe Very First Christmas, and this oneOn the Night You Were Born.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

U-Turn, Saudi Style

On our journey home from school we got to wait at every… single… traffic light we came across. For the final light we were in the front row. There are three lanes painted on the street and we were sitting six cars across. Our black truck is in position five, second from the sidewalk. As the traffic to our right takes their turn, the car to our right decides it is the perfect time to sneak around the corner - to our left. Yes, he, (and there is no doubt it was a 'he' as we are in Saudi) made a u-turn crossing in front of five cars when other lanes of traffic are making their way through the intersection. Unbelievable? Not really. This is a u-turn, Saudi style.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yup, only two links this week

A well written article about the non Palestinians living in the West Bank, illegally. Unlawful, Unresolved: Israeli Settlers in Foreign Land by Graham Peebles


When I first saw a picture of the Concordia my stomach lurched. I have been taking it all in ever since. The captain of the Costa Condordia, Francesco Schettino, unfortunately turned out to not be a great captain. Which article to share with you about that? How about this one. The story that we are not hearing much of is the work the crew did to safely evacuate over 4,000 people, in less than two hours, on an extremely listing ship, in the dark. In a previous life I worked for a cruise company including a chunk of months on board. I look forward to the time when the stories of those crew members, doing their jobs and saving lives, are told.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pics of the Kingdom

Here are some photos I have taken around town…


Censored by black Sharpie (though it probably wasn't a real Sharpie, since we don't have those here). It is very common to see blacked out people, especially women, if there is any skin showing. Here you get both the entire blackout version and the face still showing version.

I was VERY amused to see that IKEA, in Jeddah, sells wine holders.

Hard to see (I took it out the bus window on the way to school with my 'little' camera), but the driver has a baby on his lap. We were stopped next to them at a light. If you see a car seat around here there is probably a foreigner involved.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Authentic Activity

I have used this activity many times, but I have never stopped to break down all the skills incorporated, let alone share those skills with my students. Being explicit about this seemingly tedious task allowed us all to sit back and say, “Wow!”

Without a single worksheet we work on…

parts of speech
note taking

What are we doing? We are doing a novel study on Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare. There are many purposes to this novel study. It gives us an introduction to Product Detailsour Explorer unit. It provides background knowledge of early colonial time in preparation for our American Revolution unit in the spring. (Remember, I am in the Middle East and most of my students have ZERO background knowledge of that time period, let alone life in the woods.) We focus on test taking skills in preparation for middle school. We practice taking quizzes, staring with open book / open note and working in groups and gradually relying on only our own memory. And then there is this activity.

What is this activity? It is taking the new vocabulary from a section of the novel, looking up the words in the dictionary, and writing the meanings, in our own words, in our Social Studies Notebooks. How does the information get organized on the page? What is the best way to separate words so you can find them later. (As we read, we mark the page number so we can go back and look at the word in context.) There are multiple definitions, which one is this word? What part of speech would it be if it ends in –ed? Do does the noun definition help us? If this word is really in this dictionary why isn’t it on the page I think it should be on? (It is amazing how, even 5th graders, need to be retaught about guide words and the alphabet!)

I give them some class time to work on this activity. It allows me the chance to stop and support individual students as needed. When we finished our first class session I asked them what they thought about the assignment. You can imagine the joyous bored expressions that stared back at me. This is when I thought, “Hey, if I don’t explain to them all the good stuff that comes out of this work they are going to think it is tedious, busy work!” I then asked if anyone knew what tedious meant. (No one did.) I seized the moment to be explicit and we wrote the list of skills you saw above, on the board. When I said, “and I could have given you eight or more worksheets to practice those skills” they all smiled and decided that authentic activities aren’t so tedious after all.


I am so glad you joined me for this slice of life. Please consider reading on other days as well. Add me to your Reader and see what shows up on days that aren't Tuesday.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Links of 2012 including My Top Ten Books of All Time (as of right now)

Everything I know about God I learned  in my laundry pile, posted by Elizabeth Ester, is so spot on I can't keep it to myself. This is how she starts…
The first lesson you learn in motherhood is that when you create a human, you also spend a lot of time cleaning up after it. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much what God has been doing since the day He created humans. Cleaning up after us, I mean.


I do quite a bit of figuring out flights. Often I am trying to figure out the best routing, timing, and/or who we could get miles on that actually helps our current mile situation. I have a website I have been using for years, but the URL is ridiculous so I am always having to find find the link and go from there. (I just realized I should have turned this into an itty bitty url years ago, but now I have this…) This week I came across a new website with an easy to remember URL. http://www.hipmunk.com/ This site does virtually the same thing as my previous 'go-to', but with visual bar graphs for flight times and an option to list searches by 'agony'. Give it a try!


Katherine Sokolowski was the author on The Nerdy Book Club with a post entitled "My Top Ten Most Important Books". As I told her, I am a sucker for a Top Ten list and an even bigger sucker for books. I immediately opened my notebook and jotted down my list…
In no particular order - My Top Ten Books of All Time (as of right now)
Product DetailsThe Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Everywhere Babies lap board bookEverywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Illustrated by Marla Frazee

Kneeling in JerusalemKneeling in Jerusalem by Ann Weems

14,000 Things to be Happy About.: Revised and Updated edition14,000 Things To Be Happy About by Barbara Ann Kipfer

Product DetailsThe Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Mister God, This Is AnnaMister God, This is Anna by Fynn

My Beautiful ChildMy Beautiful Child by Lisa Desimini and Illustrated by Matt Muhurin



and The Bible
My favorite two versions are here and here


Join the conversation and leave a comment. Learn anything from a laundry pile? Favorite airlines? Top Ten Book List? Anything else?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Today Is The Day

Today we thought we would try the toddler bed.

G had woken up in the night this past week, talked a bit, and gone back to sleep - all on her own! I praised her in the morning and told her that shows me she might be ready for a bed, a little toddler bed. We could give the crib to somebody else who has a baby.

We have had said bed since June. It is a hand-me-down. It is bright pink and we knew she would love it. Today was the day. Daddy had been gone all week and picking her up to get her in and out of her crib has been hard on my chronic shoulder tension / migraine situation. Her little bed will take care of that.

All day we talked about "The Rule". What is the rule? She can not get out of the bed on her own. She must wait for Mommy or Daddy. We even practiced. Being so excited she asked us to close the shades and turn off the lights. She set her bed up, crawled in, had one of use tuck her in, and we left - for a few minutes. We came back in and praised her for waiting in bed for Mommy or Daddy. She wanted to do it again. We did.

Then it was nap time. We went through the same procedure. I sat in the hallway, just in case, reading. After about 20 minutes I went to peek through the key hole. (Yes, we have old fashioned skeleton key holes - perfect for peeking.) She was out of bed. I went in and told her 'bummer' and moved her things to the crib, which was still in her room for this very purpose. She was not happy about the situation, but The Rule is The Rule.

But now she is back in her cage crib and is actually napping. I told her she can try again tonight. If she still can't follow The Rule her pink bed will go away for a week and then we'll try again.

Anyone want to place bets?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Month Long Hiatus


A month of slices that slipped by was a fabulous way to spend vacation. If I had posted what might you have read about?

24 hour plane trips (with a 2.5 year old)
Baileys and Bacon
Duraflame and Dampness
Socks and Sweatshirts
Happy Birthday Jesus!
Cousins on the Coast

This week it has been back to school AND solo parenting while J is recruiting teachers for next year in Bangkok. Come this weekend my excuses for…

continuing to eat crap
continuing to enjoy the lights on the tree
continuing to do what I want rather than what I should

not exercising
not downloading, editing, uploading, etc. pictures
not writing

all come to an end. I will be back to my regularly scheduled blogging (and life) soon.

Thank you for your patience!