Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Things are quiet here at the in-laws. The Cowboys are playing (you know . . . football, like the Steelers), which is occupying the rest of the household. I can't pretend to be bothered by that, so I thought I'd take a few moments and update here.

This trip home has us feeling incredibly blessed. Our first six months in Pittsburgh have been rough. We've cried plenty, cursed our lives, been lonely, wondered whether or not we were going to be able to make rent, and more. There have been moments when we wondered what on earth we were thinking, moving away from friends and family and starting a new life there. It has not always been glamourous.

"What an adventure!" they all said, when we were packing our lives up in the Camry.

We knew what they meant: "I'd never want to do that . . . but good luck to you."

Coming home has been a revelation. We realize how much we've learned, particularly about relationships. It's not as hard as we always thought.

We're grateful for family. We literally are who we are because of our families, and it has been wonderful to see everyone again. It's been interesting now that we've really established our own household, independent of our families, that we can now redefine those relationships. It now falls on our shoulders to maintain contact with our families--refreshing, in a way.

My heart is full. To end with a quote from our first grade musical production, "The Littlest Christmas Tree,":

Christmas is love
Christmas is caring
Christmas is joy
Christmas is sharing
Christmas is what our dreams are made of,
But more than anything,
Christmas is love.

May your day be filled with all the love you deserve.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bad Rachel Day

When I was in elementary school, I had a music teacher named Mrs. Gallian. When someone was misbehaving in class, she would send them to sit with the "Jaguar" (the Jaguar was our school mascot, although the "Jaguar" was actually a Garfield doll, wearing a school T-shirt) in the back corner of the room. After a certain time, the student could raise his or her hand, and ask, "Can the 'Good _______' come back?," the answer to which was almost certainly in the affirmative, and they were invited to return and sit with the rest of the class.

The Bad Rachel feels like the world owes her something. She feels like she's the exception to the rule. She feels like she's much better than she actually is, on all counts. She's a better employee, a better friend, and even better looking. She doesn't like other people very much--in fact, she often resents them, especially if they're happy and successful, or if they want something from her. She compensates for the fact that she feels they're all looking down at her by looking down at them. Sometimes she has to stretch a little, but she can almost always find some way to make herself superior to any other human being.

Can the "Good Rachel" come back?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kids (and adults with dementia) Say the Darnedest Things

A female dementia resident was lingering after lunch today, when one of the dietary aides came through to take the carts back to the kitchen. After making a few catcalls, she turned to me and said, "He's nice, isn't he?," then paused, and asked, "Who do you like?" I told her I was married, and she frowned, and said, "Oh, you're married? That's not too bad."

LATER . . .

I was teaching my seven year-old little student, and she messed up while we were playing "Jingle Bells." She turned to me and said, "Sorry. I was thinking about the color green." A few moments later, she messed up again, and said, "Ooops. This time I was thinking about a talking pumpkin." She then proceeded to shoo the talking pumpkin out of the room (but the darn pumpkin just wouldn't comply).

Lack of inhibition is one of the funniest things ever, isn't it?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Pizza Friday!

I'm glad it's Pizza Friday today. It's been snowing here in the 'burgh, and I've had my first week of working my PT job (that is, in addition to teaching three classes and my private students--for a total of six different work locations in the course of a week--yikes!), and I'm ready to kick it.

We are serious about our Pizza Friday. It's a challenge to come up with a delicious pizza every week, and we're not always successful (the week before Thanksgiving was a bust, for example, mostly because we were determined to use what we had on hand, which was a strange assortment of odds and ends). Here are some of our most delicious pies:

#1. Roasted peppers, onions, and ricotta, with homemade tomato sauce on sourdough crust. Slice some red and yellow bell peppers and red onions, drizzle with olive oil, a bit of balsamic vinegar, and liberal amounts of salt and pepper, roast in 400F oven until a bit blackened. Put tomato sauce and dollops of ricotta atop the crust, then spread the veggies over the top.

#2. Spinach white pizza. Starting again with our sourdough crust, we make a simple garlic b├ęchamel sauce, mix in some frozen chopped spinach (thawed) and put that atop the pizza. Then, top with mozzarrella. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan, especially REALLY GOOD parm.

#3. I think this is my all-time favorite: pear, chevre (goat cheese), and caramelized onions, topped with baby arugula. First, caramelize some thinly sliced red onions in butter (melt butter over medium-low heat, add the onions and stir frequently until they've colored nicely). Thinly slice some pears (we used Bosc) and arrange them atop your crust, and then distribute the onions and crumbled chevre. When it comes out of the oven, cover it in arugula and drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil, and some coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. In every bite, you get the sweet, juicy pear, the mildly sweet onions, the tangy goat cheese, and the spicy arugula--absolutely divine.

What should it be for this week??