Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jill: In Defense of Cheese

Unless you've been hiding out in a Cold War bunker recently, you have probably heard that the citizens of our country are getting a little thick around the middle, to put it nicely.  We now have an entire industry dedicated to weight loss, exercise, and healthy eating.  Experts deliver theory after theory about why our fatness has reached epidemic levels: sedentary lifestyles, laziness, medical issues, fast food, plugged in to our electronic devices too much, saturated fat, trans fat, not following the food pyramid, too much processed food, too much red meat, too little fruits and veggies, not enough exercise, portion sizes, calorie control, hormones and on and on and on.

So the ultimate question is what exactly is to blame for America's pudginess?  Take it from the teacher.  The answer is

D.  all of the above

Clearly, logic should win out on this one.  All of those factors combine in a variety of ways to affect each person in a different way. This is why one weight loss remedy works for one person but not another.

I don't begrudge any of the experts and advocates for taking a stand against one particular fat-causing demon.  Everyone deserves to have a soapbox to stand on.

That being said, I am drawing the line at this guy who wants to lay all the blame on CHEESE.  Seriously?!?  It is absurd to accuse Cheese, and Cheese alone, of causing the fat on those billboards.  (I'm so annoyed by this that I'm refusing to post the pictures of the billboards, but you can see them in the original article.)  He also claims that you should NEVER include Cheese in your diet.  Never?!  Cheese has been a part of the human experience for thousands of years, but people have not been packing on the pounds in such rapid fashion until relatively recently.

In my humble opinion, he has openly declared war on Cheese (either that or he is just simply crazy).  I, for one, will not tolerate this defamation of this most amazing food.  I will stand and proudly defend my love for Cheese.  I will continue to cover my organic, farm fresh broccoli with it (how else am I supposed to get it down?).  I will continue to slather my baked, multi-grain crackers with it.  And I will most certainly continue to use it as a side dish for my wine.

The line has been drawn.  You must choose your loyalties.  The time is now.

As it should be!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jill: BIG Thanks

Well hello there, world 'o bloggers.  Seems we have some catching up to do, no?  Let's start with the basics.
  • Yes, I still remember how to log onto the blog site.
  • No, I have not had too much wine.
  • Yes, I am still running.
  • No, I have not figured out how my children know exactly when I am sitting down to blog and then choose that exact moment to go ape shit around the house.
  • Yes, some of that ape shit is happening right now, but my husband is "handling" it.
  • No, I did not finish this post in one sitting because I still had to go help out. Sigh.
When we first started our little club and blog I was happily enjoying an extended, albeit unpaid, maternity leave and could find the time write more often.  Six weeks ago I went back to work, and since then free time is a luxury I can barely remember.  I'm lucky that I have been keeping up on the running (barely) but I was sorry to discover that the blog fell very far down the To Do list.  I'm back at it again with a renewed vigor basically because I need Stephanie to stop nagging me about it. 

I've decided to begin by giving out a few much deserved THANK YOUs.

First, a huge THANK YOU to our good friend Jill over at JoggingJeans.  She's been a great supporter of ours from the beginning. Our blogs went up in the same month, and I was lucky enough to discover hers really quickly.  Since then, we here at the Whine and Cheese Club have incorporated finding folks running in jeans into our regular routine because we love her site so much. 

However, I wanted to make a special mention about her super awesome post about teachers.  The last time I submitted a photo to her, she posted it along with an really nice shout out to those of us working in this profession.  Currently, all of our club members are teachers, and this serves to explain our absence of late.  I'm sure some folks out there are thinking "how in the world do you NOT have time to blog when you are done working at 3:15 each day?"

Allow me to explain.  First, let me introduce you to the stages of a typical school year in our particular school district.  Let me repeat, I am speaking only about where my club members and I work.  This is obviously not the case everywhere.

1st Quarter:  Everyone arrives back at school full of optimism and excitement (no, seriously, that's not the wine talking), students and teachers alike.  Students try really hard to start off on the right foot despite their past issues, and teachers give all the students a blank slate and tons of confidence.

2nd Quarter: Cracks in the armor start to appear.  The behavior and academics of many students begin to decline.  Teachers start to learn more about their home lives (or lack thereof), disabilities, and health issues.  Anxiety levels build as the holiday breaks approach not because our students are excited to get out of school but because many of them do not look forward to being at home for an extended amount of time. At this point, most of us have probably had to break up at least one fight, most likely more.  Just when you think your sense of humor has abandoned you forever and you just might spend every night soaking in the bath tub crying for the youth you try so hard to help, we get around 2 weeks off to coax our sanity back by enjoying as many holiday "spirits" as possible.

3rd Quarter: See below

4th Quarter: Testing is over or will be soon.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  Students and teachers begin joyfully counting down the days/weeks until summer.  Teachers get to do a lot more "real" teaching because the tests are over.  Awesome projects, field trips, and enrichment activities abound (if we have found some way to pay for them), and everyone strives to end the year on a positive note.

I saved the 3rd Quarter description for last for two reasons.  First, it is by far the toughest time of the school year for us.  Second, it is currently where we are right now which should help explain our absence from the blog and also the lack of training for some of us.

3rd Quarter (of death):  The pressure of testing is full force which wears on both teachers and students.  The weather is gray, dull, cold and crummy.  There is no such thing as a snow day in our district. Seriously, last year after a snow storm, the local news was at our school filming because we were the only one open in the entire COUNTY. The only good that came of that episode was the beginning of Baked Goods Breakfast between club members.  The theory being that if we had to be the only school in session, then we should start the day off right with a breakfast that made us happy.  Habanero Cheddar baked a cake that first day, and it's a tradition that is still alive and well among us. I think scones from Panera are on the menu this week.

Anyway, I digress.  During 3rd Quarter we get up and drive to work in the dark, and many of us return home after the sun has set as well.  There are very few days off in which to repair our mental health.  We are deluged with meetings and paperwork, most of which seems unnecessary and counter intuitive to our mission of educating and helping kids.  We spend time being upset that our students stole from the substitute teacher when we had to be home with our own sick children.  We have to contact social services for students who are literally sick with hunger or are walking to school in winter with nothing but a flimsy sweatshirt on.  We try our hardest to make sure that even in our class of 34, no one falls through the cracks, but more often than not, feel like we are failing.  It's the time of year where we question our motives, our effectiveness, and even possible career changes.

This, my friends, is where we currently find ourselves.  Blogging has become a luxury of time that we simply do not have, and some of us are even having a tough time keeping up with running.  This is not an excuse.  It's simply our reality right now.  We will no doubt make a huge comeback as 4th Quarter rolls around, and we have race reports to write.  Because despite the absence of regular posts, we have been busy signing up for races, training occasionally, and eating and drinking as much as possible, all in the spirit of the club.  Fear not!  We are still doing our thing.  We just haven't had as much time to share it all with you.

Remember that this post is really about saying THANK YOU, right?  So finally, I have 2 more folks who are deserving of my gratitude. 

THANK YOU to my husband.  My transition back to work has been exhausting and even more difficult than I predicted.  My real runner husband has put his own running on the back burner to help with the kids, help keep our house in a livable condition, and even occasionally help me grade papers.  He's super awesome, and I couldn't be more lucky.

THANK YOU also to club member Stephanie.  Without her nagging and her inability to run alone, my training would have disappeared altogether.  She's pretty much single-handedly kept me running even if it hasn't been as often as in the autumn.  Wait a minute.  Did I actually just thank her for making me get up on Saturdays as well as dragging me out of my home during the work week at least one evening a week?  I definitely have had too much wine.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Steph: Shamrock Shuffle

I am super excited to run the Shamrock Shuffle on March 10th. Not only is it the first 5K that I KNOW I will be able to run .... but it also is an opportunity to raise money for our school. I love it. In addition, we get to dress like fools and maybe raise even more money for our school.

I have new confidence! I can run without stopping for 2 miles straight and I have a plan in place to get to 3 miles by March 10th. I actually feel like it is really going to happen for the first time since we started. Don't get me wrong .... every time I know I am going to run, I have to mentally prepare myself for it. Convince myself that it is a good idea and that I won't die doing it. But I have been convincing myself. I have been doing it. I will continue ....

And my husband ... he is AMAZING about this running stuff all of a sudden. He is so supportive and loving and I could not ask for more from him. Thank GOD for him and for my running buddy Jill who impresses me every time she runs .... because she has A LOT more to juggle at home than I do. So thanks to my support team .... I would not be here without you :)