Adventures: Alligators and Airboats

Because we are in the business of making dreams come true, yesterday we set out at the crack of dawn (ok, maybe it was 10am) to make Tiffany’s waffle house dreams come true.  Upon arrival at the waffle house, which was approximately 1.2 miles from our house, we sat basically in the kitchen and prepared ourselves to be wowed (two of us had never been).  We almost didn’t make it out of the Waffle House alive, since they had a bad batch of pre-packaged jellies, and Rachel opened up the jelly for our shared toast and discovered a coating of mold.  They were mostly horrified, and ripped Tiffany’s jelly packet and knife out of her hand before she could try to ingest it.  After this near-crisis, we ate some tasty breakfast and set out for the country.  Or most specifically: the Everglades (we ARE in Florida afterall!)

A slight detour to purchase God’s gift to sunburn (Banana Boat After Sun Lotion), we soon arrived in alligator country. Little did we know to what extent our alligator dreams would be coming true.

That last statement might have led you to believe we were nearly eaten by an alligator, or that one jumped out of the water at us to bite off our hand.  Neither of those things are true.  Rather, we saw one alligator on our airboat ride. I thought we saw two.  Turns out we saw the same one on the way in and the way out.  Huh.  After our fun and educational airboat ride (or death-trap-like ride, if you are one of my friends who feared for her life the whole time) through the mangroves, we got directions to go a bit further down the road to a viewing area, where Rachel got to try on an alligator tooth on her finger.  I think this will teach her a valuable lesson about giving a sassy answer to the park ranger 🙂  We then traveled about 2 miles into the reserve and we ended up seeing probably 50 alligators. We thought about counting, but there were too many.  It was amazing!  They were laying on the banks of the water, swimming lazily, and enjoying life.

Here is a fun fact I learned about alligators.  In the winter they are in kind of hibernation mode and they will lay out by each other and be friends.  Not so much in the summer.  In the summer they will eat each other.  I’d like to think there is a life lesson that can be pulled from this.  However, I mostly am too tired to think of something clever.  You are really just lucky I came back 5 days after starting this post and finished it.  Vacationing takes a lot of out of you!  Or rather, coming back to reality takes a lot out of you.

Lessons in Vacationing

We have learned so much!  Some things the hard way, some things in a typical fashion, but in case you are vacationing soon, I wanted to prepare you for lessons that you too may learn.

Lesson #1, Grilling

On vacation I learned to grill!  I have mostly always been intimidated by the grill.  But we really wanted to be able to grill for multiple meals, so we decided to go ahead and give it a whirl.  And by that I mean I called my brother (who used the grill down here back in July) and asked him to walk me through grilling, starting with turning on the grill.  I made salmon, baked potatoes, and Texas toast.  DELICIOUS!  I was very proud of my newfound abilities and also feel it is much easier and much less scary than originally anticipated.

Lesson #2 Car Maintenance

We noticed that the car didn’t seem to appreciate going over 50 mph, and that didn’t see quite right, so we consulted my dad and he said to check if there were any low tires.  The back tires were indeed a bit low, so we put a little air in them. Fortunately for us (but unfortunately in life) my roommate had been having air troubles in her tires back home, so we had recently ventured to the gas station and learned how to put air in tires.  Turns out all the tires had completely different air pressures in them… After consulting the Pops again, we evened them out and the car drives like a dream now.  

Lesson #3 Sunscreen WILL betray you

We were such responsible little adults yesterday at the beach and put sunscreen on regularly.  What did we get for our troubles?  Not a cute tan like we had hoped – that is for sure!  We all thought we walked away with sun success stories.  But alas, with time, we discovered that we all had horrible blotchy sunburns in random spots.  Fortunately, thanks to my new beach hat that I found at the J Crew outlet, my face is freckly and fine.  That is probably the most important.  My worst burn is on my feet.  All I want to do is itch them.  We had an aloe party last night, and this morning I noticed some non-burnt patches on my legs had a bluish tint.  OOPS.  Someone needs to take the aloe away from me.  I have clearly crossed the line to addiction.  No photo for this one.  Because who wants to see ugly foot burn?  No one.  I’m sorry for even bringing it up.  Amber did share some angry/disappointed words with the sun during sunset, so I’m sure this will not happen again.

Lesson #4 Read the twitter.

We went to the outlets one day too soon – some players told us (or twittered about it) that they were headed there yesterday.  But we went on Friday.  We are disappointed in ourselves.  But also are enjoying picturing Drew Butera heading back to talk to his teammates, “Hey Kevin!  Check out this new button down I got yesterday – guess how much I got it for?”  “Joe – Look at this sweet new polo!  It was so cheap, I basically got it for free!  I think it would really bring out the color of your eyes.”  We are pretty sure more players will be headed to the outlets soon.

Lesson #5 Don’t get eaten by an alligator.

We are headed to the everglades today!

Twins Win! (or more so a Fan Win!) Spring training successes.

Today we followed our hearts and ended up at Hammond Stadium – home of the Twins for spring training.  We are going to play scrabble soon, so I will not bore you with the details, but will focus in on the highlights.

Joe Mauer batting practice 

After which we hung out with Brian Duensing in the stadium.  I was reminded too late that his wife is a teacher and we probably should have taken time to bond over that.  Next time. We watched Joe Nathan be interviewed, then got a photo with him (he was glad to see us – true fans – after some kid had the nerve to ask him to sign a Yankees hat!) 

We watched a little more of the practice on the other field, then joined the throngs of fans awaiting the end of practice and the walk to the clubhouse.  We are pretty sure that Tiffany got Mauer’s autograph because of the extended eye contact they shared earlier in the day.  Once that excitement was over, we saw that Pavano was being interviewed.  Amber and I re-lived our play-offs mustached memories and the genius idea was suggested to sharpie on finger mustaches for an epic photo opp.  He may have watched, looking amused, while he was interviewed, and so naturally he rushed over to have a picture with us.  This is probably our proudest photo moment of the day.  Ridiculous?  Yes.  AMAZING?  Yes.  We are genius fans.   We thought to ourselves, “Wow, our day truly is complete.  It really can’t get better than this.”

Then it did.

We were innocently eating a picnic lunch, (right outside the door of the club house) and who did we see over yonder, strolling up in a Pavano t-shirt and shorts?  Kev.  So we said, “Kevin, can we get a picture with you?”  He said yes, we exchanged some banter, and all was right with the world. 

We wrapped up our lunches, (not literally wrapped them up – more so finished up eating), hung out with Gardy for a bit.  (He promised to hand out flyers to all the players for our Presidents’ Day Party)  (insert sighs of happyness and joy here.)

p.s.  While we were playing scrabble and enjoying the evening, we reminisced about the day.  (When so much excitement occurs, it is never to early to begin reminiscing).  We decided that Joe was probably also playing scrabble that evening with some of his friends.  We decided the group would likely be Joe, Drew, Kev, and Pavano would be the fourth player – he just seems the type.  The game probably came down to being between Kev and Pavano – Kevin is after all taking college classes currently.  Even though Slowey is my favorite, I think I’ll put my money on Pavano for the win.

Hey Laura, you’re the big star today!

These are lyrics from my birthday song of choice.  When we were little we each had a record with our personalized birthday song from Captain Zoom, and we had to stay in bed until my mom played it on the record player.  I loved that tradition SO much!  I would have been excited for this today, but I would still be laying in bed if that were the case.  Not because my mom doesn’t love me (because she does) but because 1)  I do not live in her house anymore, so that would be tricky and 2) I am birthday-ing in Florida this year.  Birthday-ing in Florida this year might be my best decision so for in 2011. I will be telling you why in just a moment, but first, please tune in to 

And without further ado, here are some reasons I would recommend birthday-ing in Florida:

  1. I got to celebrate 2x before going to bed – I started my Florida birthday at midnight by getting off the plane.  I celebrated my MN birthday at 1am by having a popsicle while my friends sang to me.
  2. It is warm.  Some might even say hot.  After suffering through -20 degree weather, 80’s are a blessing (and a relief).
  3. You can go to delicious places for breakfast, such as Skillets, a place that describes their food: Our thick cut smokehouse bacon. Our incredible, enormous sourdough waffle. Freshly squeezed orange juice served in frosty beer mugs. Ethereal egg white omelettes that literally float off the plate. Nutritious, yet fluffy whole wheat pancakes. Homemade bread, baked daily in our hearth ovens. Tender crepes, Chicago style blintzes, Panini’s griddled with rosemary herb bread. Mountains of fresh fruit. Truly old fashioned, thick, slow cooked oatmeal porridge. Freshly roasted and brewed Guatemalan coffee direct from the plantation. Their motto is, “Breakfast and lunch with flair” – this will probably be my new motto.
  4. You can go grocery shopping for your birthday! (not actually a highlight.  but not really a lowlight either.  So I guess just a light).
  5. The Beach!  You can read your nook that your parents got you for your birthday in your new handy dandy waterproof case.
  6. I met my goal of at least 15 freckles before heading home.  And it is only day 1!
  7. You might feel sad in your heart that Florida did not fulfill its promise to build a Caribou in time for you to get your free drink.  Then your friends will get you a “free” Starbucks instead!  Delicious!
  8. The Beach.  Oh, I guess I already mentioned that.
  9. Here is something new: driving in the convertible with the top down.   Last year we did this once.  Because it was a dream of mine.  But we had to wear sweatshirts.  Today it felt like bliss.
  10. No sunburn!  (aren’t you proud of my and my SPF 30, mom?)
  11. Learning to grill!  And having our delicious dinner of salmon, baked potatoes, green beans and texas toast turn out AND taste amazing.
  12. Birthday cake!  Thanks friends!

Tomorrow we shall meet the Twins and become best friends with them.  My friend prayed for me to get a birthday hug from a Twin.  Best prayer ever.  (Well, maybe not actually – but it is a pretty awesome one)  We will also be on the look out for more dogs in strollers at the outlet mall.  Wish us luck on all accounts.

p.s.  this seagull tried to eat my face.  no joke.  the park/beach/employee/guy laughed at me.  i am traumatized.

Thanks friends for making my birthday so great! Yes, I’m not sure how a birthday could get much better!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

So far today we have made awesome valentine’s day hats with hearts dangling from accordian folded paper.  We also passed out valentines to our “teammates” in our class (or at least that is how one kiddo explained it!)Today I asked my kindergartners to answer the question: What is love?

  • Love is to be friends.  I love my mom.
  • Love is when you hug people and you care about your friends and not push them.
  • Love is loving somebody.  Like you give somebody a hug.
  • Love is about family and friends.
  • Love is being together and hugs and kisses and presents.
  • Love is bringing a ball back to someone.
  • Love is giving a hug to somebody.
  • Love is giving hugs to somebody.  You feel it in your heart.
  • Love is when you miss your auntie or your uncle of your mom and dad.  We feel happy.  You give them flowers and a present.
  • Love is that I tell my mom that, “I love you.”   I feel kind of good.  My mom bake me some cookies and I told her thank you.
  • Love is because you love some people.  Sometimes you miss them.  I love my mom.
  • Love is being with our mom and dads.  We really miss them.
  • Love is when you be nice to people and they let you play with them.
  • Love is kissin’ before you go to bed.  Moms give you kisses so you can have good dreams so little kids can sleep good.
  • Love is when you give your mom a flower and hearts.  When you give them love.
  • Love is when you give your mommy a kiss and you say, “I love you mommy so much.  I love when you give me kisses every single day.”
  • Love is when you love someone by caring.
  • Love is loving some people.  I hug my mom.
  • Love is when you do nice things to people and you give people cookies and do their hair for them.
  • Love is kissing.  It is really nice to kiss and it warms their hearts.

p.s.  this is one of the creepier Valentine’s day treats I got: a marshmallow swirl lollipop. yum?

p.p.s.  two of my girls said they cried when they watched Justin Bieber in 3D.

    Why Fridays are Awesome.

    1.  We spent 30 minutes decorating Valentine’s Day Boxes while listening to High School Musical soundtracks.

    1a.  (this is me forgetting and wanting to come back and add it in without redoing all of the number.  but 1a kind of works, because it is related to valentine’s day)  What is Valentine’s Day about?  Answer: Candy.  Nope  kids – it is about love.  This resulted in a child asking if he could bring Love Candy to school on Monday.  (Now read it again in a thick Spanish accent)

    1b.  The students were all talking today about what they would bring me for valentine’s day.  My favorite was this: “I will bring you flowers for Thanksgiving!”

    2.  No one would listen to me teach because they wanted to just talk to each other excited about Justin Bieber 3D coming out.  Sidenote:  I keep trying to type it Justin Biever because that is still how all the kids say his name.

    3.  My kids can’t stop oohing and ahhing about my awesome drawing and box decorating skills.

    4.  We wrote our own Harold and the Purple Crayon stories today.  Here are some of the best stories my kids told:

    • Once upon a time, she had a pink crayon.  She used a shortcut and then she saw a dragon!  She sailed on a river.  She went back home to bed and the crayon dropped and she fell asleep.
    • Once upon a time, a little boy had a turquoise crayon.  And then I go all around the world.  I draw a monster and then I scribble on it.  And then I draw a hat and put it on the dragon. And then I erase it and then I go back home and then I go to school.

    I love that he actually drew a monster, scribbled on it, and then put a hat on it!

    • Once upon a time, a little boy had an orange crayon.  I draw a baby dinosaur.  Then I put him on my back and I put him in my backpack.  Then we climb a rock.  And we jump over lava.
    • Once upon a time, a little girl had a pink crayon.  I go to my adventure and it’s a island.  I find a exit and I see birds on the sky and I see a treasure box.  And the sea had a diamond inside.
    • Once upon a time, a little boy had a green crayon.  I climbed a mountain.  And then I sail on a boat.  And then jumped to the moon.  And then I jump in space.  And then I fly with flying shoes.  I run fast on a lake without sinking.

    Yes, story telling is clearly our forte.  Or not so much.  But they are cute.

    5.  I went to pick up some lunch.  I stepped out the door of my building and I could hear the bass line of some rap music coming all the way from the parking lot.  Gotta love working in the ghetto.  But as I got closer, I realized this incredibly loud music was coming from a minivan.  Even better.

    6.  I am having dinner with several Lauras tonight.  This is probably the most confusing choice I’ve made all week. But also one of the funnest.  (yes, I realize funnest isn’t a real word, but I use made up words all the time.  It is fine.)

    Twins Fest – I am not actually a twin.

    After viewing my pictures of Twins Fest, my student wanted to know if I play on the same team as the Twins.  She pointed out that I was in fact wearing the same shirt as them.  I realize how misleading this might be (specifically to a five year old from Africa), so in case any of the rest of you were wondering, I am not in fact a MN Twin.  Rather, I am a Twins fan.  Almost the same.  But different.

    Amber and I with Justin Morneau

    I am trying to think of a good reason for TC to visit us in kindergarten.  Any thoughts?

    Kevin Slowey! my new best friend. or I paid to take a picture with him. Tricky 🙂

    Speaking of Twins players, I am sad to report that I did not follow through on my promise to make paper dolls to help me correctly identify the players in their street clothes.  I did however go with a less creepy option and play a rousing game of, “Name that Twins player” using google images.  It is like the tech-savvy version of flashcards.  I failed miserably by the way.  I am doing better on some parts of my vacation preparation list though, so you can still be proud of me!  Look!  Tiffany and I made a paper chain!  (the only tricky thing is knowing if it is my turn to take off a link.  I had to count it out tonight to check, and honestly I’m still not sure!)  Regardless, when we get to the end, I’m going to the airport – so I hope it works out and we finish on the day of our flight!

    a week from today, i'll be on an airplane!

    what is in the air?

    Conversations  of ridiculous proportion:

    Conversation 1:

    Teacher: (pointing at crayon writing on the floor next to a child’s rest time spot)  What is this?

    Student 1: I don’t know!  I didn’t write it

    Student 2:  She didn’t write it!  I didn’t write it either.  We didn’t see who wrote it.

    Student 1:  Yeah, we don’t know.

    Student 2:  Somebody probably came in the night when it was all locked and wrote it.

    Student 1:  yeah, that’s it!

    Teacher: (seeing this is going nowhere productive)  So, like maybe a rabbit came in and wrote it?

    Student 2:  Or a killer man.

    Teacher:  In a school?  I don’t think so

    Student 2:  Maybe it was a teacher!

    Teacher:  No, a teacher would know better

    Student 2:  Yeah, ’cause a teacher wouldn’t want to get fired, so they wouldn’t want to write on the floor.

    Student 1:  Yeah, you wouldn’t want to be fired.  All you want is to be our teacher.

    Student 2:  Yeah, you just want to help us learn.

    Student 2:  Once a killer came into my house and stole everything out of my fridge.  I have a beer in my fridge in my room.

    Teacher:  What?  You don’t drink it, right?

    Student 2:  No, it’s my uncles.  He put my fridge in the garage.  We have a mouse in our garage.  He’s my pet.  I call him Mousey Mouse.  Or Mousy Dude.  I don’t put my finger in the trap.

    Teacher 2:  Well, that went well.

    Yep – got that graffiti ALL figured out.

    Conversation 2:

    Student: What color is this?

    Teacher:  Turquoise

    Student:  That’s funny.  Why would Jesus call this color turquoise?

    Conversation 3:

    Teacher:  Good job!  How did you figure that out?

    Student:  Well, my mom says I’m smart!

    Conversation 4:

    Teacher: If you don’t hurry, I will have to choose someone else to do this activity with me.

    Student: No!  Don’t pick somebody else.  You are my bestestest friend!

    Conversation 5:

    Teacher: Here is the picture of me with a Twins player!

    Student: Wow!  Maybe he can come read to us!

    Teacher:  That would be really great!

    Student:  OR, maybe you can marry him!

    Teacher:  I’ll see what I can do.

    p.s.  the little girl that says I am her best friend, brought me this card today.  The front was a picture of flowers and this was on the inside:

    My educational assistant also got one, but all her’s said was, “you are a wonderful helper”  we laughed at their description- she is wonderful, but  she is also definitely a legit licensed teacher…

    Bridal Shower Baking.

    Alternate Title: Team Sisters = Team Martha Stewart

    My cousin is getting married this summer, and me and my Rachels baked up a storm to celebrate the occasion (read: we made a plethora of desserts for her bridal shower)

    We spent a good 10 hours baking at Rachel’s last Saturday.  While I did literally collapse into my bed afterwards, it was worth the efforts.

    The dessert line-up:

    • Mint Brownies
    • Candy Cookie Cups
    • Heart Sugar Mint Shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate.
    • Cookie Dough Truffles (little bites of heaven)
    • Cupcake Bites a la Bakerella and Pioneer Woman

    see below for the details and pictures of the gloriousness that is our baking.

    Mint Brownies

    I can’t be bothered to go snap a photo, so just picture brownies slathered with mint frosting and a layer of chocolate on top.  They are delicious.  It is a Rachel-in-law recipe.

    Words of Wisdom: Make sure you actually have all the ingredients ahead of time.  And that the brownie mix actually is for the right size pan.  Otherwise you will be a little bit sad and up way too late after multiple trips to the grocery store.


    Candy Cookie Cups

    Thanks Pioneer Woman for supplying me with this delicious and supposedly simple recipe!  I don’t have a photo of this one either for two reasons.  1) I didn’t take one 2)  they were all eaten at the shower 3) the ones I have left I had to throw away because I didn’t bake them long enough.  Oops, I said 2 reasons.  Please forgive me for going overboard on the excuses.  Also, a little bit ridiculous that the one thing made entirely with pre-made ingredients is the one treat that turn out inedible.  If you want to see what the ones that turned out looked like, click here and envision a heart shaped peanut butter cup in the middle instead of a traditional round one.

    Heart Cookies Dipped in Chocolate

    When I looked at this recipe, I thought, oh cute!  Sugar cookies half dipped in chocolate. That will be perfect for the shower!  Then we baked them.  Then we tasted them.  Definitely not sugar cookies.  Tricky.  More like shortbread cookies.  Still tasty – just a different type of tasty.  These were pretty simple to make.  But a few things were tricky.  First off, I found this fun gold heart shaped glitter to sprinkle on.  Don’t be alarmed – it is edible glitter from the baking section at Michaels.  Not normal glitter from the shelf in my classroom.  I’d say that the glitter was totally what made the cookies magical.  I would recommend it for your next baking project.  It increased the fancy factor by at least 1,000 points.  I will also say that I was not able to dip and glitterify the cookies on my own and insisted my sister stop her work and come help me.  I confess that I was a bit of a cookie brat and was not the sweetest direction-giver.  Sorry Rachel 🙂  Thanks for your help!  You did great.

    Cookie Dough Truffles

    These are quite possibly the most amazing thing I have ever tasted.  They are delicious.

    Cookie dough truffles might be what heaven tastes like.

    It was a little bit like torture to stop eating this to take the picture.  You should probably click this link and print out the recipe and make them right now.  You will be the most popular kid on the playground if you do!  (well, only if you share them with your friends)  And I’d like to add that the hours of sorting colors candy coated mini chocolate chips was absolutely worth it.   And for sure the Rachels are much better dippers than I am.  It must be a Rachel thing.

    Cupcake Bites

    Bakerella and Pioneer Woman taught me about these about a year ago.  As mentioned above, I’m not the best truffle dipper, so I’ve never attempted cake pops, but cupcake bites seemed a bit more manageable with a lot less dipping talent required.  I will admit they are a little ridiculous to make.  But I would also like to point out that while there are approximately 1 million steps involved, the steps are fairly easy to do…

    And even though we spent 17 hours on these alone, everyone loves them.  And thus, everyone loves us.

    And thus concludes my baking expeditions for the month of January/February.  Please feel free to be inspired to bake your own delicious things and then drop them off at my house.  Thanks in advance.

    Now I am trying to figure out how to incorporate leftovers into the superbowl.  Perhaps I will say I created superbowl desserts with an “I love football” theme.  Which is a little bit of a lie, but the only way I can think to make them seem legit for our party.  But let’s be honest.  People will still happily eat them even if they look 100% Bridal shower-esque.

    150 Tiaras and Leis

    This morning I opened my closet (in my classroom) and I was attacked by (they fell out) a lei and a tiara.  I thought to myself, “who else would this happen to?”  I suppose a Hawaiian Princess, but other than that…

    On Monday at work, we were given t-shirts that say EB 150 Club.  We were given them for no reason other than the ridiculousness of it.  You see -they have been in our storage closet for the past 7 years, and no one knows what the 150 club is, or why the shirts were originally purchased (actually we are assuming our principal got them for free -he seems to have magical powers at procuring free things).  That being said, the question remains: What does the 150 Club mean?  We are all supposed to think of an idea and they will be put next to our picture in our t-shirt on a bulletin board for the kids to figure out what it means.  So I’ve been trying to think of some ideas.  In fact, here is me, thinking.

    The thinking isn’t going very well.  My list is not very awesome.  I could probably use some help.

    • I’ve taught 150 kindergartners
    • I’d like to visit 150 countries (are there 150 countries?  i just googled this: yes there are)
    • I’m afraid of being chased by 150 bees
    • I have written 150 discipline slips
    • I have 150 pet giraffes at home
    • I have 150 freckles on my face

    Which one should I put on the bulletin board?  This is a big decision.