Friday, May 7, 2010

Random Suburbia

Here are our beautiful new flower hangings, complete with flowers. I have my husband to thank for 100% of the effort.
This tree has been out of control with flowers. It's gorgeous and "snows" onto our deck often.
I haven't seen a lawn decorated like this since we were flocked back in Redondo Beach. Isn't he a lucky 18-year old? Would any of you consider doing this to someone? It's a bit odd, no?
Check out this spectacle. This would be Ray's first official time ever mowing a lawn. And, we own the mower. We're big time. Haha.
Driving here is no different than in LA. People are impatient and crazy. This guy was quite fine being in the intersection repeatedly. I had about 3 photos from different lights. What a crazy.
Hm. Strange.

Here's a sneak peak at the big dining room reveal. I'll post photos after we get the table (Sunday) and the chairs (unknown). We still haven't chosen those. It's pretty exciting! This was at the 1st coat of oil-based primer stage.
On another note, I turned in 3 packets of substitute materials for 3 districts in the area. They aren't the closest ones to our house (7-10 miles away), but they're the only ones accepting new applicants at this time. I turned the packets in on Monday, had an interview for eligibility on Wednesday for one of the districts, and subbed for the first time on Thursday! I subbed in 4th grade for a school in Darien. It was a great day. Here are some observations:

- Indoor schools are awesome! Once the jacket comes off, it's off for the duration of the school day.
- Having 22 students in a regular 4th grade classroom is incredible. I went from 32-36 in California, depending on the time of day. Having 22 4th graders is a walk in the park.
- Reading levels are tested in 4th grade here in IL. I observed another teacher giving reading assessments in the hallway all day.
- They had an entire hour of art and 30 minutes of PE of which I had no responsibility other than dropping them off. During this time, I graded all the papers. I hope she was okay that I did. I simply had nothing else to do.
- None of the teachers in the teacher's lounge spoke to me. I talked with a one-on-one aide and another sub.
- I used my first walkie talkie on duty at lunch recess---the only recess they had! I guess when you have PE everyday, you don't need a lot of recesses. A snack time was designated between a class transition for 5 minutes.
- I loved being back in a classroom... even if it was just subbing and giving tests nearly the entire day. I gave 3 tests and was able to grade them all (multi pages) because there were so few kids and so much down time!
- The teacher had a mounted SmartBoard, tablet PC, and a laptop in her room. I didn't see any computers for student use, though (only in their computer lab).
- The Darien school district I subbed for only has 2 schools; one elementary and one middle. Weird, huh?
- The 3 districts I applied to for subbing have fewer schools than Torrance Unified, of which I worked for in California (total).

I'd be subbing today as well, but I assumed that the call I received was from a roofer and not a district. Bummer. I didn't listen to the message until it was too late. They also asked if I was interested in subbing 4th grade for the same school, though different teacher (I met her) next Friday. I sure hope it isn't too late since I'm sure she's called others since last night. Even if I only sub a few more times before summer, I still enjoy spending time in the classroom. It doesn't hurt actually getting paid a little as well!

After subbing yesterday, I got home and immediately started cooking for our dinner guests. I was making enchilada casserole (belated Cinco de Mayo?), sweet corn cakes, Spanish rice, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. I also whipped up some homemade guacamole for an appetizer. We were treating a woman from Ray's work who has been incredibly welcoming to us. She and her husband are just wonderful and we wanted to have them over for a nice dinner to thank them for their hospitality. Plus, they're a lot of fun to chat with. The casseroles turned out great, the Spanish rice was normal, and the sweet corn cakes were amazing! We love the El Torito packets you can buy in California (at Ralph's only), but since we moved to the Midwest, there are no Ralph's. The packet is basically cornmeal and sugar anyhow... so I thought to search for a comparable recipe. I've never been to Chi Chi's... and actually... the only time I've ever seen one of these restaurants, we were in Belgium! Apparently they make a corn cake that's similar to El Torito's. I found this recipe online and it worked perfectly! It could've used more butter for moisture... but at that point, it's just way too fatty. I'll definitely be making that again. The strawberry shortcake was per usual: angel food cake (baked, cooled, tore apart), sliced strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream all mixed in a bowl and chilled for another 20 minutes. We enjoyed having them over. They even brought us a flower arrangement basket from Phillip's! They are a Chicagoland florist that are all over the place. We've never been to one, but now we have some experience. 

Tonight Ray is supposed to play Ultimate Frisbee with some of our new friends from church. We also have dinner plans with a couple, The Allens,  next Wednesday. Tapas! It's nice to finally be meeting people and being social... even if my husband has to drag me half the time. :)


Solange, Nik and Caitlin said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for all the pics! It's great to be able to catch up on your life through the blog. Your plants and backyard are SO pretty!!! I love that tree and it's great that Ray is getting into landscaping! I'm really excited to see how the dining room turns out :)

Nic G. said... [Reply to comment]

They do have Ralphs in Chicago, but they call them Kroger! If they don't have the El Torito stuff, let us know and we'll send a care package!

B. Wilson said... [Reply to comment]

Yeah, I know... we have Kroger but no where near our house. We shop at Dominick's (Safeway), Jewel-Osco (Albertson's), Trader Joes, and Whole Foods.

Though, I love my new recipe! No need for that care package. I've mastered something that tastes exactly the same. Thanks for thinking of us, though. :)