Testing

Posted in my life with tags , , , on April 14, 2010 by tamishields

As a teacher I know that testing is how we can compare our students with the rest of the nation and in some cases world. I know it proves they’ve learned something…hopefully. However, anyone with a heart, would find it unbearable to be in a room with children, and watch them sit still, silent, and read and answer questions for several hours. Mind you they aren’t reading about anything they are really interested in, they are reading mostly about things they have never experienced. So, as a teacher of 20 students who were tortured today, I ask you…what good did it do?

Today I can make a guess about who passed the test. In a few weeks I will know. Yesterday, I could have made a guess and it would be the same guess I have today. And in a few weeks, if I know my kids like I think I do, it will be the same kids on the “official” list as the ones on the list in my mind right now. So what good did it do?

If I can tell you who is struggling, AND I can tell you what I’m doing to help them, AND I can tell you whether I think they will be successful at the next grade, what good did it do?

For me, it is the proof of what I have been telling the mammas and the daddies all year. Proof to others that these students are struggling as much as I have said they are. Proof that they need more help than I was able to give them this year to catch up. Proof that somewhere these students have been failed. So the good that it did is to remind me.

None of us is perfect. Some of you are good testers, I am not and never have been. Some of you are good at sports, I am not and never have been. Some of you are good readers, I am not and never have been. We are all unique and for the most part we have miraculously become productive citizens. And most of us have no idea what our scores were on those state mandated test. (My guess is, if you remember it’s because you scored really high…nerd!)

So, to my poor 3rd graders I say, “I am sorry. I hope when you think of 3rd grade, you remember me smiling and laughing. Us complementing each other in the security of our class meeting and going to the field outside the trailer to do multiplication relay races. I hope you remember the fun times and that today will never cross your minds again!

What do you remember about 3rd grade? I need some ideas to wipe testing out of their minds so they remember something awesome!

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Forgiveness

Posted in my life with tags , , on April 3, 2010 by tamishields

I sat at our Good Friday service between my husband and mother. As our campus pastor started talking about the forgiveness that this time of year means for us and challenged us to forgive someone in our lives that we have been withholding forgiveness from, I knew who that was for me. My mom couldn’t think of anyone. My husband couldn’t think of anyone. Yet I had an embarrassingly large group of people to choose from.

What struck me hardest is that these people haven’t intentionally wronged me. In fact, most of them have no idea that I have been so devastatingly hurt by them. So, although Jeff said we should contact the person to make things right, how exactly do you tell someone you forgive them for something they have no idea they did? I’m not sure that would help rebuild the relationship. Instead of contacting these people I am writing to myself.

I read people. I read people well. Sometimes I read a little too much. I read situations, comments and reactions the way I would mean them if I were the other person. I put words in people’s mouths, thoughts in their heads, and then get offended by what I have put there. I guess what I’m saying is I need to forgive people for how I think they feel about me and how they make me feel. I need to forgive them for not being who I think they need to be, for not being who I need them to be. I need to forgive them for not being perfect. For I have a Savior who knows me, who can read me, and despite knowing every thought in my head about Him and all that He has made, has forgiven me. Despite seeing what I have done, how I have responded, and what I’ve wanted to do, He continues to love me. If He can forgive me for what I have said and done on purpose, shouldn’t I forgive these others for what they don’t even know they did?

For we are saved by grace. His grace abounds in me. I should share it more often.

Cheese Fondue

Posted in What's for dinner with tags , , on March 21, 2010 by tamishields

This week’s secret ingredient:

This is leftover beer from a party my sister had that she and bro-in-law aren’t drinking. So, she donated it to the cause. My first thought was…I don’t even like beer. My second thought was…FONDUE!

We lived in Chicago for the first 9 years of our marriage. When things got to points where we needed to talk, we’d escape and treat ourselves to The Melting Pot. Many of the decisions we have made about our future were made over a pot of hot melted cheese, or vegetable broth. So tonight, in honor of hard decisions that call for 2 hour long dinners, I made beer based cheese fondue.

To make cheese fondue the only real trick you need to know is that you have to add some flour to your cheese BEFORE you add it to your hot liquid base.

For tonight’s fondue, I poured a bottle of beer into a pot, turned the stove on medium heat and added a tsp of fresh chopped garlic. While the beer was heating, I shredded some cheddar cheese we had leftover from lunch then added some colby jack preshredded cheese to it. In all about 2 cups of shredded cheese. I then tossed the cheese with about a tablespoon of all purpose flour. (The flour keeps the cheese from clumping and thickens the beer). At this point, if the beer is hot you can add in the floured cheese by the handful. After each handful, stir the pot quickly and from the bottom (burnt cheese ruins everything!). After that handful has melted, add the next until all the cheese is in, or until you get the consistency you want. In the end, the cheese should coat the spoon but still drip a little. You can always add more cheese, but you’ll have to do some magic to take some out so add in small amounts! Once you have the desired consistency, top with some salt and pepper and serve. We love our cheese fondue with fresh bread from Harry’s and apples.

6 bottles of beer on the counter, six bottles of beer…one was used, in a cheese fondue…now 5 bottles of beer on the counter.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

If you have any ideas on something I can cook this week with beer…I’m listening!

Dinner #5 Buffalo Chicken Dip

Posted in What's for dinner with tags on March 19, 2010 by tamishields

I LOVE Buffalo Chicken Dip. We have a bag of Lime Tostitos and I was thawing some chicken so, what could be better than some hot dip?

Tonight I pan fried some chicken: lightly breaded it with crushed fried onions, salt, pepper and a little flour. After cooked, keep chicken on stove, sprinkle on a package of Hidden Valley Ranch powder dip mix. Add in an 8oz block of cream cheese and about a 1/2 cup of sour cream. Cook until creamed together. Put it all in an oven safe dish, top with grated cheese and bake at 350 for about 25 min (till cheese is browned). Then, dig in!

The onions really helped give a little extra flavor! I am coming to believe that fried onions make a great breading!

Bring it!

Posted in What's for dinner on March 18, 2010 by tamishields

Tonight we’re ordering take-out. I am going to attempt to put fried onions in home-made bread later tonight but it won’t be ready till long after dinner. I’m beat and out of ideas for tonight!

I am however, looking for suggestions on what ingredient you’d like to see me try to use. My sister has already called next week with some beer she and bro-in-law aren’t drinking.

Got an idea? Bring it on people…give me a challenge! Saturday’s I’ll post the options you have suggested that I may have a snowballs chance in you know where of pulling 5 meals from, let you vote and Sunday’s I’ll announce the food item for the week.

Bring it!

Dinner #4: Dirty Rice with black eyed peas and cornbread

Posted in What's for dinner with tags , on March 17, 2010 by tamishields

Today was another long day. Work until 4:30 then to Mom’s to make her some soup and check in on her. (She has bronchitis and is staying home tomorrow to hopefully get better!) Then home around 6:30. So, it was another quick meal night.

For the main dish I followed the boxed directions for Zatarain’s New Orleans style Dirty Rice Mix (30 min meal from a box). I did not add ground beef, I added a can of black eyed peas instead.

Of course you can’t have a rice based meal with black eyed peas and not make cornbread! (We do live in the South!) So I made cornbread. Not your everyday run-of-the-mill cornbread but cornbread with…you guessed it: fried onions!

2 cups White Lilly self-rising cornbread mix
1 egg
about 1 1/2 c. of buttermilk (I didn’t have buttermilk so I added 1 1/2 TBSP white vinegar to regular milk…let it sit for 5 min and you get clumpy sour milk…YUM)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oil
1/2 cup of crushed fried onions

Heat your oven to about 425, and grease your cast iron or muffin pan.
Mix all ingredients together and  pour in. Cook for 20-30 min till browning on top.

Tonight it was served with a Mango Smirnoff Ice in the bathtub with Andy Stanley’s Choosing to Cheat.
Absolute perfection!

Happy Cooking!

Dinner #3- Chicken Stuffed Crepes

Posted in What's for dinner with tags on March 16, 2010 by tamishields

Tonight, I got home late, had lots to do and many phone calls to return so dinner was fast…kind of. I decided to take an already thawed chicken breast, chop it into tiny pieces, and pan fry it with butter, salt, pepper and a little flour. From there we decided to add some peppers (yellow and red) then crush the fried onions, add a little lime juice and garlic then saute. Once everything was cooked, I sprinkled the top with feta and put the lid on while I made crepes.  That softened the feta a little.

If you have never made crepes before, they are VERY easy. 2 eggs beat, 1 1/2 cups of milk, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1/4 tsp of salt and 1 TBSP of oil. Mix it all until there are no more lumps, let it rest for a bit then pour batter into whatever pan you usually make pancakes in. You cook much like a VERY thin pancake but don’t need to flip. When they are brown on the one side, you can lift out of the pan and set aside. When they are first finished, they see hard but will soften after a min so they are more pliable. I will admit that I have a crepe pan that I bought when we were in France a few years ago but all the cookbooks say you can use any pan.

We use crepes for all kinds of dishes. Very fast and easy “bread” that will hold just about anything in place.

So, here’s dinner #3- Chicken Stuffed Crepes. My favorite of the fried onion meals so far!

Happy Cooking!