#72- From one Preschool Teacher to Another

Love this woman!

As I drove over to visit my friend Tori at her Preschool (#72 on my list), I began reflecting upon my friendships that I continue to maintain since resigning from the Children’s Center a year and a half ago.  I taught there for over 8 years, and gave it my heart and soul. The friends I’ve gathered from my time there all seem to have this same thing in common, and is the same thing that keeps me in close contact with many of them.  Tori, like me and my girlfriends from this place, were all about teaching and loving every family that came through our classroom.  We were in the business of being preschool teachers, looking to be real with everyone we worked with and didn’t spend any time kissing anybody’s ass.

Which is why our boss didn’t like her (nor most of my friends from that place), but I love Tori.  Tori didn’t bake muffins to win herself a job, sleep half her job shift away, spend her day hiding from doing any real work and nor did she pretend to be a “yes ma’am” kind of worker.  You’d be surprised, but this is what the majority of the lead staff at our old place do with their time. Am I bitter?  A little.

We worked side-by-side in “Preschool D” and had a fucking BLAST doing what we did and doing it well.  Parents lined up to book her for babysitting, much more often than I ever was called. So when she left, I was so sad. And when she told me about her new adventures at her new preschool, I knew I needed to come visit to check it out.

Blown away by how awesome her Center is

What I wasn’t expecting was how amazing PHENOMONAL her center is.  Being at the Children’s Center for as long as I was, we were kind of brainwashed into a certain degree of arrogance, thinking we were just the Cat’s Meow when it came to child care.  But this place where Tori works put our old workplace to shame.  I was floored just by the security measures to get IN to this place.  Then, the ambiance, the decor, the lay out, the outdoor space, the qualifications, the diversity proudly put on display. I walked around with my jaw dropped.  Seriously- if you live or work in Sacramento, talk to me and I’ll tell you where it is. Tori has been here for 5 years, so I feel like a really bad friend for not visiting sooner.  Perhaps if I had, I would have put in a resume!

Not an amazing photo, but a great idea from Tori that I am stealing.  Visiting with her for the short hour I was there reminded me of how much I love her, and admire her for her love for the job.  While there are a ton of preschool teachers out there, it’s not too often you find one with as much passion, sensitivity and energy as her. 🙂

#1- A 4,000 Piece Wall Decor

#1 on my list of things to accomplish this year was to complete a 4,000 piece puzzle.  Because, the box containing a 4,000 piece puzzle was staring me in the face after arriving in our home as a Christmas present. Puzzles are time consuming, and frustrating.  To me, however, they have always been therapeutic. It’s very easy for me to zone out and focus on puzzle pieces.  Some of my most fond memories growing up is working on puzzles with my grandmother when visiting.

I once did a 5,000 piece puzzle when I was 16 that hangs in my Dad’s rec room.  It took me several months and I was worried that if I started this puzzle now, it would also take me several months and there was a possibility the puzzle would lose pieces along the way due to a unnamed 3 year old in the house. The difference from when I was 16 to now, however, is that at 16 I had a lot more going on with school, sports and social life than I do today.  I spent about an  hour each day, usually before Natalie woke up and after she fell asleep, for the past 3 weeks working on this thing.  I learned a few things along the way.  For example,

Russia, like the country itself, was a bitch to put together.

My rusty knowledge and recall of World History in Jr. High with Ms. Rumsey finally found its purpose.

I was somewhat accurate just with reading place names on a puzzle piece and thinking “hmmm. that sounds African”

There are literally islands in the middle of no where that have names. And U.S. Military bases on them.  Now that I have global satellite capabilities, I was able to zoom in and count missles just like any one of our allies.

I occasionally developed anxiety thinking about all the OTHER places I need to visit and things I need to do before I die.

So there you have it.  4,000 pieces. 3 weeks. NO help at all. It is now glued, mounted, and on it’s way to hanging in our office. And we are back to having actually family dinners at the table again.

#86- Baking Brownies from scratch

I do enjoy baking.  I’m not like my friend Lindsey who is a pro, but someone gave me a tip about baking many, many years ago that has pretty much made it so that I have never mess up a batch of cookies or anything else ever since.

The tip? Baking is a science, not an art. At least, the baking part is.  One part that makes Lindsey as popular as she is is the art.

Most people try to take short cuts or make substitutes. If I’m missing the right amount of the right ingredient, I already know that it’s not going to work. Basically, when a recipe calls for shortening- don’t use margarine.  When a recipe says two tbsp. baking powder, don’t make it one. Is it imperative that you sift the dry ingredients first before slowly adding it to the wet ingredients? YES.  Why do your cookies always look fried and burnt around the edges?  Cause you didn’t soften that butter and throughly mix it with the sugar before adding the eggs. What’s that?  You like to add more vanilla cause you like the flavor?  Bad choice.

Ok, anyways-  so one thing that kind of always bugged me about brownies is that they are ALWAYS out of the box and I’ve yet to come across a cookie swap that didn’t have brownies with burnt edges that came from a box.  What was my excuse for using a boxed recipe?  Well, my excuse is that I don’t typically eat brownies as it is and the times I’ve made them, it’s because Blake brings home a box hoping I’ll bake him up a batch of his favorite fatty snack dessert.  So when I was making my list of things to accomplish and I was thinking about all those things I say I’m gonna do one day- baking brownies from scratch made the list.

And I’m glad I did.  Never tasted a better brownie EVER.  And NO burnt edges.  Your welcome.

#67- Does this parade count??

I had no idea waking up this morning that I would accomplish one of my goals before lunch.  When I arrived at Natalie’s preschool, they were just getting ready to begin their Chinese New Year Parade.  It was suppose to be yesterday,  but the weather didn’t cooperate. #67 on my list is to be in a parade, and while I didn’t really envision this…. it was still too cute to pass up.  The Kiddos walked main street with their homemade ‘dragon.’  Plenty of folks came out of the shops to clap and cheer for them, and the Half Moon Bay Review snapped this photo….

http://www.hmbreview.com/gung-hay-fat-choy/image_b5976246-46c2-11e1-aca3-001871e3ce6c.html

The children scored some chinese good luck tokens and money being handed out by one of the merchants, so naturally that was the highlight of the whole thing.  Perhaps I will try to still be in a BIG parade, but really I’m not entirely sure my motive for putting it on my list originally.  I can say, I was watching the news as I created my list so maybe there was something in the headlines about a parade that inspired me to add it.

#93- Like something out of a Harry Potter Movie

This is how I describe the candelabra tree found along the Candelabra Trail. Over the summer when we had first moved to the Coastside, Natalie and I attended a “campfire circle” at Butano State Park.  During the Campfire, a slideshow presentation on what could be found in the park included a fuzzy picture of what seemed to be a mammoth of a redwood tree.  The Ranger hosting the Campfire INSISTED the picture didn’t do it justice, that it was likely an 8th wonder of the world (or at least, of California) and it was worth hiking 2.Something miles to see.  While she was hosting the exact hike the next morning, I didn’t feel like setting my alarm clock so I opted to put it here on my list instead.  I mean, it’s so close to where we live I couldn’t live with myself if I never took the time to go check it out.

On Yer Marks... Get Set.....

P.S. This sign here says “Candleabra”  Which just didn’t set right with the spelling-bee winner in me.  After Googling it I see that the correct spelling is in fact Candelabra.  But….anyway……Along the way, there were lots of the typical, yet still fascinating sights…. Banana Slugs, Mudslides, Psychedelic mushrooms, and NEWTS!  Never seen them before so it was cool for a second. We spotted a total of 6.

 

So here’s the Tree, which Natalie claimed was an Alice In Wonderland Tree, whereas I thought it resembled the Whomping Willow Thing from Harry Potter.

The Candelabra Tree

 

To give you a good idea of how BIG this tree really is, and to pose for a cheesy photo Op, here’s us stretching the length of the tree:

See how big? Not me, the tree.

 

And one more before we head onward on the trail….

I called it fun, Dr. Alison called it Spinal Injury.

#59- It’s the Great Artichoke!

I really had no other reason to put this on my list of things to do other than it seemed like a silly and fun touristy thing to do. The World’s Largest (sculpted) Artichoke resides in Castroville, which is not too far from us and along the way to our favorite California Hot Spot:  Monterey.

But, I suppose I could write a short story on my relationship with Artichokes: When I was a child, my Dad grew artichokes in our backyard.  I always liked them, tho rarely with mayonnaise. I remember feeling special one time at school because I was the only kid who knew that artichokes grew on plants similar to bushes.

The place that houses the Artichoke, from the outside looking in, seems at first to be an appealing Farmer’s Market type place, but upon closer inspection it’s nothing worth stopping for.  Unless you are easily amused by fruit shaped displays of fruit.

#48- Pho King says what?

In all my years around Sacramento, I’ve seen a gadozen vietnamese “PHO” Restaurants, always assuming it was pronounced…. pho.  Blake insisted to me yesterday that I was wrong in my phonetics and it’s actually pronounced “Fuh.” So as we pulled up to the Pho (“Fuh”) King Vietnamese Restaurant in Monterey, I was baffled that this joke could have gone so long over my head. (Please let me know if I need to sound it out for you slowly…. or, please let me know if my husband pulled another fast one over me).

I’m not sure why I had an aversion to Vietnamese food for so long. Maybe I can blame Anthony Bourdain for eating out of a back alley street dump with no Public Health stamps of approval and showing how the food is killed & prepared.  Maybe I can blame the fact that I had no tour guide helping me through my first time.  When Blake saw my list tho, he was put out that I had never tried Vietnamese food before, why I don’t know considering we’ve been married for 6 years and he’s never once suggested it or gone to a Pho King restaurant in our time together.

I wanted the most Vietnamese item on the list, which was kind of hard to find cause most of the items looked a lot like chinese food.  I wanted the Spicy Basil Stir fry, but the waitress really worked at talking me out of it so I went with the Garlic Chicken Stir Fry instead & Blake ordered the Pho. Both were delicious, but I think I need to go back a few more times to appreciate all the flavors of Vietnamese food.