Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Choice

I have made the choice to stay at home with my kids and send in my resignation letter.  uuuuuuh --- that was hard to say.  It is not that I don't want to stay at home with my kids; I love being with my kids.  It is just hard to say that I wrote the resignation letter.  It feels so final.  I was a teacher; I was a good teacher. I know it isn't the end for me, I know it is the right choice for my family, I know it is a decision that was a long time coming -- and some what over due,  but that doesn't make the choice any easier. The reason I put the decision off is because I loved my job; I still love it......BUT  I love being with my kids more.  I couldn't wrap my head around leaving my kids with someone else while I go to school and take care of, teach, love other people's kid. I know people do this all the time.  And I know I have heard that parents who work are better parents for it, I have heard kids are better adjusted to school life because of it, I have heard quality time instead of quantity --- BUT  it still was not the right choice for me. I couldn't do it.  And I guess that is all that counts ---- here is the letter I sent my boss

January 31, 2012
Dr. V

It is truly with a sad heart that I resign my heart song job as an English teacher in the John Hersey High School English department. I grew up at Hersey, and I became the teacher I am today at Hersey. I know it sounds cliché. I know it sounds like a throw away comment. But it is the opposite – it is absolutely my truth. I learned, I grew, and fell in love with teaching within Hersey’s walls. I love everything about my job. I love teaching students of this age; they are full of energy and questions and challenges and excitement – they keep you in an agile mental position. They are clay -- ever ready to make an impression upon – positive or negative – the choice is up to the individual teacher. I remember some days being so mentally challenged that I left physically exhausted; the students push you to work. I love that. But the students also have wisdom to share if you take the time to listen.

My department --- my department --- who doesn’t love being part of a winning team? The English department at Hersey High School was a place where being successful wasn’t good enough – it was about what are you going to do next? What is the next success going to look like? What is it we can do for the students this time? Let’s raise the bar for the students – we learned as a group time and time again that the higher you raise the bar – the higher the students can climb. Their potential is limitless. What an exciting challenging work environment where everyone is trying to do it better again and again and again. Truly a place where you can feel your daily achievements, you can feel your accolades, and you can feel your successes. I do love teaching the students, I do love the school, I do love my department, I do love feeling the self worth and accomplishments that come with the job.

BUT ……

When teaching writing to my students, I used to tell them that when using the word but in a sentence it negates everything that preceded it. Word choice – word choice – it is so critical.

In this case BUT is the correct word to use. I love all the above concepts, idea, and aspects of teaching BUT now I have children of my own. And that has been a game changer for me --- it has made me view my time differently, my priorities differently, and myself differently. So I love everything about my teaching job, except the time it takes me away from my kids.

It is truly with a sad heart that I resign at the end of this school year. But if teaching has taught me anything, it has taught me that a person’s potential is limitless, a person’s future is filled with possibilities, and a person’s life can change in ways beyond originally imagined. So who knows -- I may be back some day.

Thank you for the past 12 years,

Monday, January 23, 2012

No Cream - Cream of Potato Soup

Cream of whatever soup is my husband's favorite soup.  You got it -- it almost doesn't matter what the soup is -- it will get his attention if the word cream is in the soup title.  The first time I made artichoke soup (which I will share some other time - it is so good), my husband was convinced it was cream of potato.  It was creamy (yet had no cream), and it was potato colored.  Ever since I made that soup -- he has been asking me for cream of potato soup.  I am somewhat against making cream soups.  I feel like it is my assigned task as Sole Keeper of the Family's Health to cook as healthy as possible for my family.  Because it is a free-for-all of food choices the second we eat out.  Hence I have maintained a no-cream-soup-zone in our home for the past eight years.  But that era has come to a close.  I finally made MY version of cream of potato soup. It has a splash of half and half, but even that was a last second toss in, and I don't believe it MADE the soup.  So if you don't have it in your frig -- don't go to the store to buy it. I would say if you were unwilling to make a cream soup before -- try this version of cream of potato -- it may just change your cream soup free home - like it did mine. 

No Cream - Cream of Potato Soup

3 tablespoons butter
1 or 2 onions thinly sliced
salt / pepper
5 potatoes (keep them whole or half them)
1 box of chicken stock
2 cups water
2 bullion cubes
salt / pepper
1-2 tablespoons of corn starch

1 1/2 x 4 inch chunk of cheddar cheese cut into cubes / or 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
a splash of half and half (optional -- I added it because it was in my frig for my morning coffee)

In the bottom of a stock pot, add 3 tablespoons of butter, onions, salt and pepper on low to med heat. Once onions are softened, add potatoes (* hint they should all be about the same size), chicken stock, water, bullion, a bit of salt and pepper.  Let potatoes cook -- about 20 minutes.  Then when potatoes are cooked, pull some potatoes out and cut into bite size chunks - leave them out of the pot. Use your immersion blend to blend soup (cream). Start out with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a mug with some cold tap water - not a lot - just enough to dissolve the cornstarch. Mix together until there are no lumps.  Slowly add mixture back into boiling soup (soup must be boiling or you will get lumps).   Add cheese chunks, a splash of half and half (if you don't have this in your house -- forget it -- you will not miss it).  If it is not to the thickness you like, repeat cornstarch step. Add potatoes back in the soup.  Serve. If you want, you can add a bit of fresh chives to the top of the soup in each serving bowl -- and/ or a few chunks of crusty toasty hard bread.  Enjoy your no cream cream soup.