Thursday, December 15, 2011

It’s the Season of Giving

I’ve been feeling so happy this holiday!

Trader Joe’s is part of our weekend routine. It seems every Saturday we pop on down to T.J’s armed with our large re-usable shopping totes and smiles on our faces. We pick up a few staples, but what we really get excited for are their featured products. We picked up some Chocolate Covered Joe Joe’s (their version of the Oreo), and these sinfully delicious Fig Truffles.

The holidays always seem to bring out my crafty side, and this holiday I have managed to pick up a few new techniques to add to my “craft skills” resume. This year, a student of mine actually taught me how to make paper flowers through the art of origami. I had an inspiration to make these flowers and use them as bows on my Christmas gifts this year. Zack and I went hunting for origami paper at all of the local craft stores…..but origami paper is expensive! And I was really looking for holiday colors, which they just didn’t seem to carry. We came home and I was feeling pretty upset returning empty handed…….and then…….I had an idea! I used wrapping paper!

Here’s what they look like;

I also made these cute little Santa brownies for my co-workers. Aren’t they adorable?

Zack and I went to drop off our donations for the family we adopted from an abused deaf women’s shelter the other day. It warmed our hearts to do this special thing for this family. We walked away feeling as if we were lifted up on a cloud and having a deep desire that we could do more. And this Saturday we are meeting another family we adopted through a wounded soldier program. We had such a wonderful time shopping and picking out items to give to these families that we ended up enjoying shopping for their needs more than our own families. It helped us reflect on what is important during the holidays; family, friends, security, and a sense of feeling safe and loved. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy December

I’ve been having such a great month so far. I feel so thankful and blessed. Zack and I have adopted two families this holiday. We spent the past weekend shopping and gathering items off the families “wishes/wants lists”. Shopping for clothes for a two year old girl was so much fun, and I didn’t hate the clothing selection for young boys either. We really hope we give these families a beautiful Christmas this year.

The month of December is short but so busy. Our students have been making stained glass pictures as gifts for their parents. It has been an interesting project. I have never worked with glass paints before but it was simple enough. The difficult part was the glass leading; some students struggled to keep a steady hand. Overall though, I think parents will be thrilled to see their lovely holiday gifts.

I gave an excellent history lesson this week. I put together an informative Power Point presentation on the Islamic invasion of Spain. The students learned about Tariq Bin Ziyad and his powerful army. I found this great video that I also played for the students. Afterwards, we played a trivia game to check for students understanding and comprehension of the information. Students were so successful and this makes me smile. I can’t wait to give next week’s history lesson.

Yesterday, we dressed our little doggies up in cute holiday outfits and had an informal photo shoot. It was pretty fun and we captured some really sweet pictures.

The best part about December though is….WINTER BREAK. Next week is the last week of school and then I get a lovely 2 weeks of free time. We are heading home for the holidays! HOORAY! Can’t wait to see family. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Holidays 2011

Happy Holidays,
We had another exciting year full of changes. We moved back to Seattle! After leaving Seattle in 2009, we knew we had made a mistake and it would only be a matter of time before we would return.
In early spring, I was contacted by my former employer and they offered me a full time teaching position in the upper elementary at Woodinville Montessori School. In the summer I was enrolled in an intense Montessori credentials program. I'll continue this for the next 3 summers and walk away with my Montessori Teaching credential. I'm so excited and passionate about Montessori teaching and enjoy being a lifelong learner and dedicated educator.
We have also had a great year bonding with family; from backyard BBQ’s, birthday parties, and one pretty wild St. Patty’s Day, it has been a wonderful year to reflect on. One particular celebration that should be mentioned is the exciting news of my brother Mike’s engagement to his long time girlfriend Taelor. We are so excited to see those two get married!
Prior to the start of the Montessori training; we treated ourselves to some incredible adventures.  In April we made a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway from Seattle to Los Angeles. We camped along the Oregon and California beaches and let the waves lull us to sleep every night. We enjoyed hot clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls at Splash Café in Pismo Beach, Danish pancakes at Paula’s Pancake House in Solvang, and fresh beer on tap at the San Pedro Brewing Company in San Pedro, CA.
In San Pedro, we met up with Zack’s parents and hopped on a cruise ship to Mexico. We had an amazing suite with floor to ceiling windows that we spotted dolphins out of several times during our trip. We enjoyed first class dining and round the clock service from our personal butler. We truly felt like royalty.
At the end of May we headed out for a month long music festival road trip. We headed to the Sasquatch Music Festival at the most beautiful venue in the world, The Gorge in Central Washington. We spent the 4 days camping at the Wildhorse campground. It was pretty chilly at night but we were thankful for that because our next festival would treat us to severe heat conditions.
From Sasquatch, we drove 2,381 miles to Manchester, TN for the Bonnaroo Music Festival. This would be our second time at Bonnaroo and we were more prepared than ever. We took 2 weeks to drive there and stopped at some amazing places along the way. We went to Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Mall of America, Lambeau Field, Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville.
When we arrived at Bonnaroo it was HOT! We spent 4 days sweating in the humid Tennessee heat listening to some great bands; My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, Buffalo Springfield, Gogol Bordello, Matt & Kim, Childish Gambino and far too many more to name. We walked away feeling like survivors; having braved the heat , the crowds, the dust storms ,an awkward experience with Ron Jeremy, and the miles we walked daily. Bonnaroo will surely be missed. 
Upon leaving the festival we maneuvered our way back West. We made a stop in New Orleans where we walked Bourbon Street, ate beignets, listened to jazz at Preservation Hall and took a Cajun cooking course. We then headed to Houston and had a lovely but short visit with Zack’s grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousins. It was great seeing family during such a long trip. Next we headed to Dallas to see Dealey Plaza and the Book Depository Museum. We walked through Carlsbad Caverns and passed through Scottsdale till we reached Las Vegas. We spent a few days at the Vdarra Hotel and Spa in an incredible suite overlooking the Bellagio fountains unwinding from all of the driving we had done.
At the end of summer, we took one more final trip; we went to Southern California with my brother and his fiancé, Taelor. We toured Hollywood, cruised through Beverly Hills, enjoyed the world’s best breakfast at Griddle Café, walked the beaches of Santa Monica, scarfed down chicken and waffles at Roscoe’s and of course visited Disneyland/ California Adventure.  It was a great trip with memories to cherish.
The start of the school year was exciting for me as I was able to start putting my Montessori training to practice. In this school year, I organized a strong Geography curriculum in my classroom with a focus on Europe. My students created a 5’x5’ topographical map of Europe using Model Magic to construct land and water forms that really made the map pop. I also facilitated the school’s Halloween party and it was a huge success. I also helped the students build a Haunted Maze in the multi-purpose room and put together 7 organized games, a cupcake walk, and an army of parent volunteers. I'm definitely looking forward to introducing some new and exciting materials to the classroom during the remainder of the school year.
Looking back on this year we reflected on how much we have accomplished and the journeys we had made. In the upcoming year we look forward to making more unforgettable memories and spending time with our two dogs Roxy and Peanut. We wish for all of our family and friends a blissful new year that they too will use to celebrate and create new memories of their own.
            Zack and Patricia Martens

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Tale of San Francisco

I was so prepared to write my blog entry the evening after our day spent in San Francisco but wouldn't you know my laptop crashed and I had to wait until we returned home so it could be repaired. Nevertheless I'm posting now.......

We had a wonderful time in San Fran. The weather was perfect! We woke up early and rode BART into the Embarcadero station and then walked down to the pier. The air was really crisp and fresh and the waterfront was quiet except for the several joggers out for their daily run. We walked around looking for a spot to get a quick bite to eat before our tour boat left for Alcatraz, but nothing seemed to be open at 7 am. So we snapped some pictures and waited until the Boudin Bakery opened and then we quickly ate sourdough bagels before it was time to board the boat.

We waited in a long line of people to board the Alcatraz tour boat. Once we boarded we were both feeling the motion of the water.....blah.....but it quickly faded once we started moving. It was a beautiful view from the water looking at the city skyline and the bay bridges. We snapped many photos as we pulled up to the island.

When we exited the boat and stood on the island it was so exciting! I was anxious to get inside this creepy prison and have a look around. When you enter the prison, you enter through the shower room. It was strange seeing these old prison showers. We were then given headphone sets to start the audio tour of the prison.

Here are a few snapshots.....

Prison Yard

Prison Cell

Prison Cell with escape hole

Prison Hall

Visitation area

After we finished the tour we walked around the island before boarding the boat to return.

Once we arrived back to the mainland we walked on over to the food stalls and shared a clam chowder sourdough bread bowl. We wanted to just have a small snack for lunch but the soup was so filling we both felt stuffed from just sharing one. LOL

After we finished eating we headed on over to the China Town District and it was an amazing transformation. All the buildings changed and you became immersed in another culture. There were delectable smells of Chinese steamed buns, dim sum, and other seafood delights. If we could eat we would have but there again we were stuffed!

All those hills and miles and miles of walking had our legs throbbing and blisters on our feet. It was worth it but we were ready to head back to the hotel. We walked on over to the BART station and hopped on board to get back.

When we arrived back at our hotel we freshened up. Our feet were sore and we were feeling sweaty and gross after all that walking. This day was our official anniversary and we wanted to head out for dinner. We had decided to have Korean BBQ for dinner and headed down to this small restaurant we heard great things about on YELP called Korea House. Oh wow what a treat!

The restaurant was buzzing and we were so excited to start eating. We sat down at the table and ordered; I had the Bibim Naeng Myun (Spicy cold buckwheat noodles with veggies) and "Z" had Dae Ji Bulgogi (Spicy BBQ pork) plus we ordered some Soju, and the waitress looked very surprised!

The food started to come out; first the Banchan or Korean side dished which consisted of fish cakes, kimchi, seaweed, mung bean sprouts, spicy anchovies, spicy squid, salad and they even threw in a free plate of Jap Chae (stir fried buckwheat noodles). We were seriously getting stuffed! The owner was totally wild and crazy she would come over to the table and feed you with her chopsticks, drop off free soft drinks and continuously refill your empty bowls. She wouldn't even let you say no to seconds she just starts bringing out more. We couldn't believe the incredible service. We have a confession......the food was so good we came back the next day for lunch LOL! If we ever return Korea House will definitely be on our "to do list"!

The next day we cuddled in our comfy hotel room and relaxed. We head out for a walk over to the strip mall across the street and popped into Trader Joes and we purchased some salad and mixed fruit to eat in our hotel room that evening. It was a nice treat to just stay in and relax.

The next morning we drove home earlier in the morning. It was a perfect trip.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kicking off our Anniversary

Today we woke up early and drove over to the Bay area. We arrived around 9 am and went over to breakfast at this place called Country Waffles. I love breakfast! The food hit the spot and was a nice way to start our little Anniversary trip. I chowed down on cinnamon roll french toast and "Z" had the corned beef hash which is pretty much his standard breakfast dish.

After breakfast we bummed around doing a little shopping and such and then popped on over to the movie theater to see a movie that we've been curious to see but couldn't because it wasn't playing in our city. But luckily we were able to catch it over here. So the movie is called "Catfish" and is a documentary based on a relationship built on Facebook that ultimately turns out not to be what it seems. It was fascinating and yet not too far fetched as the internet gives many people the opportunity to role play and be someone they are not. I was highly entertained and glad we went out of our way to see it.

After seeing this film we still needed to kill sometime before we could check into our hotel, so we decided to sneak into another theater to see "RED". I'm not really sure how I feel about this's a little outrageous and really action packed. I wasn't too impressed with the story and would probably only give this movie a 2 star rating.

Next we hopped on over to Ohana Hawaiian Barbecue for lunch and treated ourselves to some Hawaiian food. Hmmmm.....I said we weren't going to eat any Hawaiian food before our trip to Hawaii but oh well......It was F'ing delicious! Plus I was quite hungry after sitting through two movies. I had the BBQ chicken and "Z" had the chicken katsu, we of course shared food and even ordered some spam masubi; after all the meal would not be complete without a little Spam! LOL

We checked into our hotel; The Crowne Plaza. It's a pretty nice room and we are both feeling pretty comfortable here so far. We went down to the steakhouse located in the hotel and enjoyed cocktails with some calamari and scallops. I think my cosmopolitan did not agree with me, (did I mention I hate alcohol) and then we topped the evening off with dessert. I had the strawberry shortcake, personally I felt that it was awful! And "Z" had the mudpie; which was a very healthy portion and much much better than my dessert choice. sounds like we did ALOT of eating today.....LOL! But it was a really great way to kick off our weekend. Now we just need to do some major walking in San Francisco tomorrow; I don't think that will be a problem.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple Hill

Today we went over to Apple Hill in Camino, California and it was a beautiful fall day, perfect for apples, pumpkins, and cider; too bad it was spoiled by severe crowds and horrendous migraines. Yup a perfect day ruined by a combination of car sickness and head pounding pain. Why must I be so tortured?

The day started with so much potential.........a light breakfast of oatmeal with walnuts and raisins at Ernie's Cafe in South Lake Tahoe. Yummy! And then a beautiful drive on highway 50 through the mountains.........

But turned........we spent the majority of the day battling for parking spots and trapped in the car as we maneuvered our way through the apple orchards. We stopped at the Jack Russel Brewing Co. for some hard cider and blueberry ale.....both of which I did not partake (alcohol is not really my thing) but hubby seemed to enjoy. Then we headed over to Rainbow Orchards and had some apple cider donuts and apple juice which we're both delicious but nothing to get too crazy about. And then lastly we stopped at Boa Vista Orchards and spent some time looking at the craft booths and shopping and oogling at produce......lot's of good stuff!

And then it happened.....the dreaded was the worst one EVER! I can't even begin to describe the  pain.......but I'm not sure if anything could be more painful than that damn migraine! I suffered for 3-4 hours until finally some medicine was able to calm it down. Thank god!

Then we headed back into town and enjoyed pizza at this delicious place called Gremaldi's and WOW that was quite a treat! I don't think I've ever had a better pizza........

Mix the good with the bad and all in all it was a decent day. I'm looking forward to the upcoming week though........we will be celebrating 3 years of marriage in San Francisco! Can't wait!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Getting Excited!

We leave for Hawaii in 30 days! I can't wait!

We are starting to get better adjusted, still some kinks to work out but for the most part we are comfortable. We went over to Zack's parents house last Monday and cooked dinner for them so that was fun. We did a whole German themed meal in-light of Oktoberfest......I think they enjoyed it. I love to cook, especially for other people so it was nice to do for once. I think we will make it a regular weekly thing.

We also went to see Social Network and I can't say enough good things about the movie. I really really enjoyed it!

I also visited an old girlfriend and she has so much in common with me it's almost scary. The best part is that she's leaving her job and is taking a personal break from working so the two of us will be able to really catch up.

I will be heading out to several elementary schools next week and checking out where I want to complete my demonstration teaching......I'm nervous and excited. I know it will all go well, but still a little nervous.

And besides all of this excitement we are also planning to head to San Francisco for our 3rd anniversary on October 21st. It's been a while since we've been there so it should be really fun. Then on Halloween weekend we are heading to Apple Hill for some apple picking, cider, and pie. Can't wait!