Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sabbatication: Highs & Lows

Pin It The High

A "high" so far has been our visit to Sedona. Brian's aunt and uncle live right in the heart of the red rocks. I woke up early to take pictures, driving all around to the scenic spots, only to realize some of the best views were right out their front door and just down their street. I've been there many, many times over the past 20 years, but the beauty of Sedona still amazes me. The view from the front door is just stunning. We truly felt we were at a resort!

While in Sedona, we took time to drive up to Flagstaff and have dinner with Brian's old friends, Bill and Melanie (known since they were toddlers, I think). We had a wonderful dinner with Bill, Melanie, and their daughters Katie and Amelie. Their daughters (late teens) were delightful, and their parents should be quite proud of how they're turning out!

We also spent a morning in Oak Creek Canyon to go to Slide Rock. Katie went to Slide Rock two years ago with her cousins, and was eager to get back. I think it was #1 on her list of things to do in Arizona. The weather was warm, but the water was FREEZING!! I went down a few times with her, but then had to warm my bones.

Because it was a holiday weekend, we stayed in the southern part of Sedona (more where the red rocks are, as opposed to the touristy shops) where Brian's aunt's home is located. The traffic to the shops was horrendous, and we decided to skip all that on this visit! Looked into Pink Jeep tours as well...but their starting price per person was $45, and that didn't include off-roading. We decided to skip the jeep, and instead took the "Silver Honda" tour, at a bargain price of $3.99 (approximate cost of gas used).

After that it was back to the Tucson routines...a little exploring, a little school, research, etc. All was going well, until...

The Low

One of her teachers had emergency surgery and had a week long sub. The class was out of control...disrespectful, yelling obscenities, and making rude gestures behind the sub's back. Katie was extremely uncomfortable with the situation and talked to us about it. We went with her last week to talk to the school about the situation. The school was very responsive and helpful. In the end, though, Katie didn't make it through the week...came home "not feeling well" because she was so anxious about going to class with these kids.

The school has two groups of 7th graders. We *thought* Katie had been placed in the advanced group, but just learned on Friday she wasn't (a little irritated about that...but moving on, because in the end she will catch up). In science and math, she's repeating what she learned last year. While we can't change the science part (all 7th graders learn biology, which she's already had)....she really needed to be in the advanced math class.

The school wanted to move her into the advanced classes. The classes are a better fit for her, the kids WANT to learn, the class size is much smaller ( 13), and the behavior is completely different. Even knowing all that, she didn't want to change after finally getting some good friends. She didn't want to start all over making friends in class.

So...we were just heartbroken. Emotionally we didn't want to force a move. But then again, she was uncomfortable with the first class. She was BEGGING to be home schooled.

We went to the school today, meeting with the VP and counselor. Katie did not want to try the new classes. It took a couple hours to work through a solution where we (whole family!) "observed" the other classes. The counselor asked her to make a list of pros and cons about each class.

We first went to music, and her pro list was lengthy...with just one con. She gave us a smile and a thumbs up. Afterward, she said her old classmates would have been talking over the teacher, and she was pleased that these kids actually paid attention.

At lunch, she waited for her friends from the other class. They greeted her with hugs and smiles, and all went off to lunch where she caught them up on what was happening.

After a couple more classes, a boy asked her if she were going to be in that class. She said, "Yes." YIPPEE!!!! She did a cartwheel in P.E., and smiled at us. We asked if we could slip out, and she agreed, going on with the new class.

So now we just sit back with a little less anxiety and a lot more hope.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sabbatication: Memories From My First Three Weeks

Pin It Tonight marks our third full week in Tucson. Wow! The time is flying by! So many memories come back to me at the oddest moments. I'll be driving by a road, intersection, restaurant, school, etc. and have flashbacks to specific events that I haven't thought of in years. I can look at buildings, parks, intersections, and vividly remember all that used to be there...all the different names and changes through the years. I still know my way around...which isn't saying much, as the city's layout is a simple square mile grid!

Here are the things I've been reminded of in the past three weeks:

1. eegees (on more than one occasion...)
2. desert rains (not enough...they're calling this the "Non-soon" season)
3. El Charro Mexican restaurant
4. alleys behind homes (where you put your trash cans)
5. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
6. cicadas
7. lizards
8. Palo Verde High School
9. Kellond Elementary
10. Arizona/Sonora dormitory (freshman year)
11. Graham/Greenlee dormitory (sophomore year)
12. The UA football practice field (where I met Brian)
13. The benches outside the practice field where we studied for quizzes.
14. oleanders
15. Palo Verdes
16. pumping gas (have to do it yourself here!)
17. ocotillo and prickly pear fencing
18. bougainvillea
19. Red Bird-of-Paradise flowers
20. wrought iron bars over windows
21. warm tap water
22. oxidized car hoods
23. burrs
24. Casa Molina Mexican restaurant
25. low riders
26. Randolf/Reid Park
27. Golf 'n Stuff (wasn't it Golf 'n Things??)
28. Tucson Mall
29. Park Mall/Place (my first non-dormitory job, where I worked with Suzy)
30. soda can't be stored in a hot garage
31. Suzy, Dana, Jennifer (so far)
32. Rancho Montana/Campbell Ranch apartments (my first one with Korin)
33. KLPX (classic rock)
34. left turns after the lights
35. rooftops (homes and school buses) painted white
36. parking in the shady spots
37. Mama's pizza
38. Cool desert nights after a storm
39. white lights on La Paloma's saguaros
40. view of city lights as you head down Swan from Sunrise
41. Dash Mats
42. Lucky Strike Bowling
43. Gentle Ben's (in a new location)
44. The Loft
45. Bonnie Brae house
46. crackled desert dirt
47. bats
48. spray misters
49. Bookman's (used bookstore)
50. Mesquite trees
51. cactus (saguaros, prickly pear, chollas, ocotillos, barrel,
52. aloe vera
53. agave
54. yucca
55. Palo Verde trees

There's still so much I want to do and see. A lot of what I want to see are touristy things...for Katie. She hasn't been to southern Arizona since she was two, and well, you don't remember things from age two!

Still to do:

1. Slide Rock*
2. Sedona*
3. Flagstaff*
4. Colossal Caves
5. Saguaro National Monument
6. Old Tucson
7. Desert Museum
8. Gaslight Theater
9. Magpies Pizza
10. Blue Willow for breakfast
11. Kartchner Caverns
12. Gavi Italian Restaurant
13. Buy fresh tortillas
14. Tucson Meet Yourself
15. Fourth Avenue Street Fair
16. Caruso's Italian (where Brian took me for our first date)
17. Mama Louisa's Italian (a childhood favorite)
18. Mi Nidito Mexican restaurant (a long-time favorite of mine)
19. Mt. Lemmon
20. Sabino Canyon
21. Botanical Gardens
22. Winterhaven lights at Christmastime
23. Biosphere 2 (OK....this was all starting up when we lived here, and hokey as it is, we finally feel compelled to go see it!!)
24. San Xavier mission
25. Gates Pass for a sunset
26. Kitt Peak observatory

* I'm looking forward to crossing these off our "To-Do" list, as these are our Labor Day weekend plans. We'll spend time with Brian's family and some of his old childhood friends.