Friday, May 3, 2013

Should I start blogging again?

Should I try to start writing again?  I think I am asking myself but. . . who knows.  I think I really find it cathartic and therapeutic to write, but when will I find the time???  That is the question for everything.  When.will.I.find.the.time?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Best Brownies Ever

So, things have been moving along smoothly. The kids rooms, bathrooms, hallways have all been cleaned for Pesach. Still have to do my room and the rest of the house but still, there IS progress.

I made 20 little chocolate cakes (from scratch) for Mishloach Manos. Only because I didn't have any cake mixes in the house-I had to more than quadruple the recipe! But I do like the way they came out. Done and in the freezer. I still have to frost them and make a batch of cupcakes for those surprise visitor shaloch manos. You know, just in case someone comes you didn't remember. That makes me crazy to not be prepared.

Anyway, there's still a ton of things on my list for both work and home for this week and next (what is with no school on shushan purim?!) but I thought I would share this great recipe I got from my SIL for chocolate chip cookie brownies. Regular brownies are not my favorite dessert-as much as I like chocolate I really prefer cake. But these brownies are fabulous, not a ton of work, and everyone who eats them loooooooves them. It is from a website called

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

For brownies:
1 Chewy Fudge brownie mix
For cookie:
½ cup shortening
¼ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
For glaze:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons margarine
1 (8 ounce) container pareve whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownies according to package directions for chewy brownies, not cake-like ones. Pour into greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Next prepare cookie topping. Cream together shortening and sugars until fluffy. Beat in other ingredients and drop by spoonfuls on top of the brownie. Bake for about 1 hour or until browned. Cool.
When completely cooled, prepare glaze. Melt together chocolate chips and margarine. Whisk in whip and stir until smooth. Cool slight and pour over brownies. Store in refrigerator.

The only things I did differently were to substitute margarine for shortening (it worked fine) and I cooked it for only 45 minutes so they wouldn't be too well done. I would definitely suggest lowering the amount of time. I also think I used a little less chocolate chips in the cookie part-it just seemed like too much chips for the dough.

If you make them I hope you love them as much as we do! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I know it has been a long time since I blogged, probably no one is reading this anymore. But that's ok. I am just writing for myself now.

I am feeling discouraged. About a lot of things. This is a hard time of year to be a teacher-all the standardized testing makes students and teachers feel yucky. So much rides on these tests that everyone feels stressed and irritated for most of the time. So that's one thing.

Then there's the fact of the pregnant 8th grader in my school. Who basically thinks it's a big joke. This bothers me on so many levels I can't even begin to talk about it. Maybe another time.

Then there's the fact that I had to have a "group therapy session" with my students this morning because they are embarrassed that I take them out of their regular class for testing. The irony is other non special ed kids ask me to take them! I thought I was doing a good job of inclusion, helping all students feel accepted and know that they are getting what they need to be successful and apparently I'm not. Even though I am in a small school and have so much involvement with ALL the students, it doesn't seem to matter. I guess middle schoolers are just insecure by nature but I am bothered by these comments. They think they are treated so differently, when the reality is that the modifications I make for them are so minor and they are even given to other students without IEP's very often! Now I need to figure out how to address this issue.

Then there's the fact that after all these work headaches and issues, we teachers are getting based right and left in the media! That just adds to the discouraging feelings because it doesn't seem like we are valued for what we do. The way society views education definitely filters down to the students and kids and we lose a lot of respect both in and out of the classroom. It feels like we are fighting an uphill battle every day!

Then there's the fact that the world revolves around money. My husband and I work hard for our money and don't lead extravagant lifestyles by any means. We use coupons and look for the best deals on things before we buy them. We don't take vacations or even go to movies. And yet, every year it is a struggle to figure out school tuition. When people might hear how much our salaries are they might have a misperception of how much money we actually have. When you pay a mortgage, property tax, tuition/babysitting for 4 kids, utilities, car payments, food, copays for medicine/dr. appts-2 of my kids are on VERY expensive medication that runs a few hundred a month (and I am sure there are things I am forgetting) it really adds up. Now, I know we are better off than most and am very grateful for what I have. But when you live in a community that has certain requirements (and I use that word on purpose-I am not even talking about fancy sheitels/jewelry, or those kinds of things) like making Pesach, tuition, every other Yom Tov, modest clothing, etc. it becomes very hard to support a larger family on what seems to be a large salary. Especially when you do not get help from anywhere. For example, when I have a baby in less than 2 months, I will only get 1 paycheck when I take maternity leave. Because that's the amount of sick days I have. We are trying to prepare now for that time but we NEED my paycheck. So it makes me wonder what other people do. Not for comparing's sake but it makes me wonder if other people find it hard. If we need help for something does that make us bad people for having jobs and still needing it? We don't take advantage of chesed or help but maybe that makes it look like we don't ever need it. And sometimes we do.

Anyway, that's my rant for now. Maybe it will help me feel better. Because I would like to feel better about all of these things. Maybe if I start sleeping it will help too. I have just been so uncomfortable lately, but that goes with the territory. I'm not even sure this whole post made sense in my sleep deprived state.

If you're reading this, hopefully you're less discouraged than me!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hiatus. . . gap. . .interval. . . pause

Call it what you will. I have been gone from this blog a looooooong time. None of the title words totally describes my lack of attention to blogging but it's the best I can do.

Today is really the first time in a long time that I have had time and the mental energy to write anything.

I definitely underestimated the impact starting a new job would have on my life. And I don't mean that in a bad way-it has just been very different. The whole family has adjusted to a new routine, mainly because my hours changed so drastically from last year. I have to be at work by 7:30 and finish at 1:45. I actually really like this change-I am not responsible for the morning rush at all (thanks honey!!!) and get to work early and actually have some time there to get stuff done. However, I do take care of the afternoons (carpool, dinner, gymnastics, etc.) and that means that by 7:00 I am ready to go to bed. Don't tell anyone but sometimes I actually do! That's what happens when your day starts at 5 or 5:30!

So I have never been one for easy adjustments and this is no exception. Additionally, I have been learning the ropes of my new school. Even though my job description is the same, it's kind of like starting from scratch with new people and some different expectations. I also have been doing a lot more work at home (darn these long IEP's). I also have to write these documents for a new population for me-what we call non-attending students. Which is exactly what it sounds like-students that do not attend my school but they do attend a private school in the area. I could go on and on about this, but I don't want to bore anyone with the details. It is just a lot of paperwork for a student I don't know or service in any way. It is making me a little bitter especially because I actually like to teach (imagine that!!!) and all the paperwork and meetings take away from that.

Enough about work. What else is new in my life? I have been reading a lot lately, anything and everything I can get my hands on. I just discovered Half-price books and sold a ton of books so I could buy more :). I made $12! I actually finished the trilogy by Suzanne Collins starting with The Hunger Games and all of them were amazing. And I don't say that lightly (I don't usually like to read young adult books or fantasy so it started with 2 strikes against it). I was totally enthralled and engrossed! I would definitely recommend it!!

So that's the latest update hopefully, I will be better at blogging!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Catching up

Isn't it always like this-weeks of boring nothing and then BAM, in the course of a few hours CHAOS!!?

How does the expression go, "Man plans and G-d laughs?"

That kind of sums up my life right now.

Let me give a little backstory. Everyone knows that I am a special ed teacher. Well, about a year ago an assistant principal at my school became a principal of another school. And this year a teacher I worked very closely with left my school to become the AP(assistant principal) of said same school. Being close with this teacher we talked often and she would jokingly tell me that she wanted me to come work with her at her new school. I listened and ignored. It was flattering but she wasn't serious and I wasn't looking for a new job.

Well, fast forward a few months to the beginning of August. She calls me to tell me that a position opened in her school and they want me. Not only do they want me but the job is mine if I want it. No interview, nothing.

What?????? I didn't believe what I was hearing. It was so completely unexpected- every time she spoke of a "job" I thought she was just joking or being nice and trying to make me feel good.

To make matters more complicated I was leaving on vacation in 2 days (driving across the country) and needed to make Shabbos (we were leaving right after) and barely anything was ready. Also, it is August and that is late to change jobs in the education world. So I really didn't have time to think about it long.

Can we say anxiety producing?

Many people tried to give me lots of good advice-make a pros/cons list, pretend you make a choice and see how you feel BUT I just don't seem to work that way. I go with my gut. I mean, I do think about all the details and talk it out obessively, but at the end of the day, it seems to be about how I feel. Except in this situation both choices made me feel bad.

Let me explain. Both choices were good choices. My old job has a lot of great people to work with. I know everyone and almost all the kids. I have pretty good bosses and some really great friends. And though there are always things to complain about (and I DID complain this past year), I wasn't looking to change things. And the new job? Bosses who are friends. Bettter hours. A different population of student. However, there are also teachers I dont' know and it is slightly farther away than my current school. So, how do I pick?

At the end of the day a few things helped me decide.

1. I needed to do what was best for my family and changing my hours could really help us (and erev Shabbos).

2. Although I detest change, it wouldn't be completely different as I will be doing the same type of job and working with people I already know. In fact, my friend who is also AP is still teaching and I will be teaching with her. I already know we work well together. Which is an extremely important part of what I do (inclusion/co-teaching and all that).

3. THEY WANT ME. I have worked in both of these teachers/principals classrooms without trying to impress them (back when they were just teachers). They have seen the real me on my best days and worst days. And they STILL want me. They know what I do and what my job description entails and they know that I work my butt off to help my students. It is nice to feel appreciated professionally and know that they WANT to hear what I have to say. Because, let's face it-no one wants to hear about special ed. We're always an afterthought. Not complaining, that's just the way it is in the world. That's the way I feel at my current job. They like that I don't make problems for them, that I take care of things on my own, but they don't know what I really do or the problems that I face on a daily basis.

So I took the new job. And I'm scared, nervous and full of anxiety. Not very fun for a vacation. But it's done and I do feel like I made the right choice. Especially since I called my current principal and she was RUDE to me. I mean, I expected her not to be happy but she bordered on disrespectful. I'll spare everyone the details I have never experienced that from her and I am not looking forward to packing up my room and having to face her. But I guess I need to be an adult about it.

And the more I think about it the more I think that Hashem puts me in these situations to learn and grow from them. I will pretty much do anything I can to not have to face change in my life. I don't change the furniture in my house often, I don't like surprises, and I certainly don't like to change jobs. But this will be the 4th school I have worked in in 10 years. And that's because of my choice, NOT the other way around. And so I think that each time I choose change I grow and learn more about myself. And truthfully, I have emunah (faith) in Hashem that either choice I choose will be ok.

Really that's all I need to remember.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer so far. . .

Soooooo, I've been working this summer. Teaching 14 early childhood special ed kids. Talk about different than what I'm used to. It is not easy to maintain any sort of order in a classroom like that. I am in awe of teachers that do it all year long. The kids are cute, except for when they aren't. Like the boy that screams loudly all day long. Or the boy that is in everybody else's business and tattletales non-stop. Or the girl that already has an attitude at 5 years old. But it is wonderful to see them make friends, use new words and learn how to write their names. And they hug you and tell you that they love you. I certainly don't get that with the middle schoolers! And since I haven't taught that age group in a while, it was a little stressful doing something new. But now I'm done!! And I feel like I have the presence of mind to blog.

So here's some pics of the summer so far. . .

Little T's graduation from kindergarten

These were at Wagner Farm. A historic farm with some animals. The kids absolutely loved it.

I broke down and bought a pool for the backyard on the 4th. They have had so much fun using it and the hose. And I even got a little tan! Some of the garden is in the background. We now have radishes, peas, and lettuce growing in addition to our cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet), cabbage, and leeks.

Our last meat meal before the 9 days. Eating outside with the kids was great-they could be loud and messy and it didn't matter. Delicious Israeli food-didn't even have any leftovers.

Doesn't look so exciting but it is: the first tomatoes and basil from the garden. With some fresh mozzarella. Absolutely delicious.

I am looking forward to not working!!! Later this summer, we'll be on the East Coast and we are really excited about that. Hopefully, this heat wave will break and we can spend some more time outside again.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Books I've read recently

I know everyone is just on the edge of their seats waiting to hear about the books I've read.

Here they are:

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

2. The Girl from Foreign by Sadia Shepard

3. Blame by Michelle Huneven

4. A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

I am having a memory lapse-there was another book I wanted to put here and I can't remember it. I guess I need to start writing titles down!

I tried to read A Separate Country by Robert Hicks and gave myself permission to stop. Didn't like it and my reading time is too precious to waste on a boring book. It just didn't draw me in.

I'm not going to summarize the books in the list-look at the links. It is an eclectic group of books but that's my reading style. I found them all to be worth reading.

Anyway, I have plans to read a lot of books this summer, although summer isn't going to be any slower than the rest of the year. I AM teaching summer school for 4 weeks. I think I might be a little crazy, but the money will be nice. I'm teaching the little ones-early childhood special ed. Totally different than what I do now. It will be interesting. Wish me lots of calmness in my future!!

Some books I plan to read:

1. Amen, Amen, Amen by Abby Sher

2. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier ( I actually started reading this one already and it seems good).

And I'm open to whatever comes across my path. If anyone has any suggestions about books I should check out, leave me a comment!!!

Happy Reading!!