25 February 2008

Quick Trip!

We just returned from a quick jaunt to eastern Oklahoma for an overnight stay in a luxury cabin! They're called River's Edge in Watson, Okla., and I'm actually writing a story about them for Oklahoma Today, so our cabin was comped! It was an altogether refreshing time, and I highly recommend this kind of getaway to everyone!

Humor me (or don't) by listening to a few trip stories. We ended up shoving off right on schedule, highly unusual for us, at about 5 p.m. The owner assured us we would reach them by 7:30. I'd copied down directions from mapquest and the cottage website, but Jay insisted on inputting the town into his iPhone. Well, the iPhone suggested a different route, one that seemed a little shorter, so we went with that one. I didn't protest too much, thinking there wouldn't be much difference either way, even though mine was the way the cottage website recommended. Usually I don't regret being quiet, but this time I do! We wound through the Ozarks for three full hours, with one yellow diamond-shaped roadsign after another showing the squiggliest arrow you've ever seen! Between Nashoba and Smithville, about a 60-mile stretch, we met about four cars, and saw maybe 10 mailboxes and a couple churches. It felt like we were in a pine tree maze, with nothing but occasional glimpses of civilization, and often backwards ones at that: a schoolbus parked next to a shack or Christmas lights twinkling merrily. We would not have been a bit surprised to see Bigfoot saunter across the highway. Jay said, "If we make it out of here alive, we're taking your way back."

When we finally rolled in at 8:20 p.m. (I didn't count in our trip time a brief stopover at a family friend's house), we felt like it was midnight! Thank goodness Claire slept in her carseat for the last hour of our trip, or we might have been miserable. Our cabin was amazing, but we couldn't even see the best part of it that night: the view of the Mountain Fork River! The couple had all these little thoughtul and often romantic touches, too: the Bible open to Song of Solomon, twin plush robes, candles everywhere, and of course, complimentary wine and chocolates! (We actually stayed in a couples-only cabin, but they relaxed the rule for us, since I have a deadline and that was the only cabin available!)

We had a great time: breakfast on the deck, a hike, and a tour of the under-construction lodge with the owner. Now it's time to get back to the daily grind!

17 February 2008

Molten Lava Cakes, Becoming Jane, and belated V-day dinner!

Well, my lovely Valentine's Day evening fell flat when Jay came home early that day sick! He hit the couch at 4:30, fell asleep by 6:30, and didn't wake up the whole evening, even while I called out rave reviews of my molten lava cakes, dunked some strawberries in chocolate, and even made him some homemade chicken noodle soup! So I ate my romantic V-day desserts directly out the pan!

Friday night, Jay still didn't feel too well, so he let me watch his Valentine's gift to me, the movie Becoming Jane, which I LOVED! The perfect combination of my faves: period movie, smart heroine, and great script. Even though I know Jane doesn't get married, it was still suspenseful! Also beautiful, sweet, and inspiring. Ladies, watch it! Okay, I'm done.

Saturday, we got to eat a belated V-day dinner, as Paul and Diane bought us a couples dinner at Angus Pit Stop in Calera. You know that meal included a big slab of delicious meat! Claire was the only baby there, but she was very good.

Today was a long, lazy day, and I'm still refusing to do any work for this week at school! I know I'm going to have 100 papers to grade this week, so I'm giving myself a free night to anticipate a couple late nights this week. I keep somehow making all my classes have a paper due the same week! I've gotta stop that.

14 February 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Don't look too closely at this picture; it's actually one from when Claire had a cold, and I believe she's got some snot coming out her nose (well, there, I just went and ruined it anyway!).
Anyway, Claire's first Valentine's Day has been just another day at Mawmaw's so far. I, on the other hand, have had a wild day! I had forgotten what a ridiculously big deal Valentine's Day is at school! TONS of balloons, flowers, and candy clogging up the hallways and kids racing around to see who got what. So silly!
I did a bell work activity that told the story of one of the legends of how Valentine's Day became a romantic holiday, so here's a fun fact for you: Legend has it that an early Medieval Roman emperor made marriages illegal for a while, because he was trying to build an army of young men undistracted by the indiscretion of love. Well, a Catholic priest named Valentine continued marrying young lovers in spite of the edict, but alas, he was found out and imprisoned. Of course, Valentine himself fell in love while in jail, with the jailer's daughter, to whom he wrote the very first valentine, a love letter marked "from your Valentine." Ahhh, how sweet! (My freshmen gave a class-wide groan instead after I related the story. Grrr!)
Jay has to work fish night at the restaurant, of course, so I'm making V-day desserts for us: Paula Deen molten lava chocolate cakes and choco-covered strawberries. If the cake turns out good, maybe I'll post it to Mauck Kitchen Adventures (maybe!).

11 February 2008


Isn't this the funniest face ever? I don't know how she knows it's time to cheese, but when I get my camera out, she smiles like this! It is probably Claire's best trick right now!
She also gets very excited about drinking water sometimes. I think lifting her cup to her head like this is her signal that she wants to share. She thinks it's so funny when we pretend to take a drink out of her cup.

09 February 2008

Working hard!

My camera charger is still MIA, so no pic; sorry! Sorry also that it's been so long! School stuff has consumed me. Five weeks until Spring Break!

Claire's new skill is playing peek-a-boo. We've done it to amuse her for a while, but she actually reciprocates now. She covers her face with a blanket or her hands and waits until someone says "Where's Claire?" and then reveals herself with a big grin.

This is part of a broader skill she's making leaps and bounds at: communicating. When we say "No," she [either whimpers or] grins and says "Neh?" When I say, "Claire, what do you have?" (because she always has something in her hand, usually one thing in each, and then she bangs them together), she'll turn and hold out whatever she has. She also has this gesture she makes a lot, but we can't quite figure out: she'll hold her hand out, arm extended toward you, sometimes when she means "Stop" or "No," and sometimes when she seems to mean "Look at me!" When she babbles, she mostly says "Nanana" or "Mamama." She's very close to calling me mama, I think.

In adult news, Jay has been working on their development in Ardmore a lot lately. They have finally poured some footings for some actual houses! Ardmore has a maze of code and permits builders have to navigate, and they're finally through with that mess and on to building.

I am just in survival mode. I have a feeling being a first-year teacher is a lot like writing the first draft of a novel: frustrating, scary, and exhausting, with flashes of brilliance, and their consequential adrenaline rushes that keep you going. For instance, last week, I was teaching Macbeth, finishing up a Holocaust unit with Elie Wiesel's Night, comparing and contrasting two American Gothic short stories, and reading Arthurian legend. Try being an expert in all of that at once! It's overwhelming.