Thursday, October 30, 2008

Foodie Friday: French Martini #1

My drink of choice is always a French Martini. However, I have to pick and choose where I order one. Apparently it's not a very popular drink and some bartenders don't even know how to make it. There are two ways I've seen it made:

1.) Vodka, Chambord, cranberry or pineapple juice
2.) Gran Marnier, Chambord, cranberry or pineapple juice

When made correctly, it is a fabulous drink. Timpano Italian Restaurant and Mon Ami Gabi French Restaurant are two places in Maryland where I have had delicious French Martinis. Both restaurants have locations in other states as well. I haven't found a restaurant in Georgia that makes good ones yet. I'll keep you posted though.

Bon appetit!

Thoughtful Thursday

Isn't it interesting that everyone is deciding to beef up security at the polls for this election? What are your thoughts?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Foodie Friday: The Cookie Campaign #1

So we're getting ready to watch the final presidential debate a couple of weeks ago and my 4 year old niece says to my sister, "Mommy, how do you spell John McCain?" So my sister and I look at each other with a wide-eyed "wtf" look. Here's how the conversation continues:
My sister: Why Kennedy?
My niece (Kennedy): Because it's the Cookie Campaign at school.
My sister: Do you want to know how to spell Barack Obama too? (hoping)
Kennedy: ponders for a long uncomfortable moment Um...yeah?
Me: continuing to stare in disbelief
My sister: Okay tell me about this cookie campaign.
Kennedy: It's the Cookie Campaign and we have to vote for the cookie we like.
My sister: So what does this have to do with John McCain? raised brow
Kennedy: Because we have to vote for John McCain and Barack Obama.
My Sister: Well what are the choices for cookies?
Kennedy: There's a sugar cookie and a chocolate chip cookie.
Me: So wait a minute (trying not to sound as annoyed as I really am)......there are no other choices? Just sugar or chocolate chip?
Kennedy: Yes.

Kennedy left the room, and my sister and I continued the conversation with much suspicion. The manner in which the conversation played out really had us thinking that my niece was connecting the sugar cookie to John McCain and the chocolate chip cookie to Barack Obama based on the cookie colors.

By this time, my sister is optimistically searching through her email to find the information she must have overlooked about this so-called Cookie Campaign. We are very vocal about our support for Barack Obama and my niece is there every step of the way while our eyes and ears are glued to CNN on a daily basis. Needless to say, she knows who the candidates are. My sister never found any correspondence from the school about the Cookie Campaign. We both decided that we needed to talk to the teacher before we jumped to any conclusions. It's almost unbelievable to think that a 4 year old could make this up especially with all of the implied racial connections. We are trying to give the school the benefit of the doubt and assume this whole thing is a mixture between an innocent Cookie Campaign and Kennedy's witty perception. Why wouldn't the school send home information about this?

The next day, my sister asked the teacher’s assistant about the Cookie Campaign. The only information she disclosed was that the kids are voting on two cookies and that they will buy the cookie that wins. The woman also said that a lot of parents had been inquiring about it. My sister felt like she was pulling teeth, so she decided to talk to the head teacher the next day.

Each week the students have a “weekly reader.” Well a few weeks ago, the weekly reader was all about the presidential candidates. The kids went berserk, and wanted to know why they could not vote. The teachers explained that it was only for adults, yada yada. Since the kids were so passionate about voting, the teachers decided to come up with something they could vote on without relating it to the presidential election; hence the birth of the Cookie Campaign. My niece’s class got the sugar cookie candidate and the other preK class got the chocolate chip cookie candidate. Each class is going to talk about the ingredients of their respective cookies and the process of making the cookie. They will discuss the “character” of the cookies and then there will be an election. The cookie that wins will be purchased by the school. This campaign is only happening in the preK classes, and it is still unclear if other classes in the school will be voting on their two cookies or not.

I believe the school had good intentions for the Cookie Campaign, but unfortunately it was poorly thought out. First, the parents should have been properly notified about this. Second, they really should have had a primary election for the cookies or chosen cookies that didn’t “resemble” the presidential candidates quite so much. Lastly, they need to pay closer attention to the conversations their students are having about the presidential election. Stating that you are not discussing the candidates with the students is one thing, but ignoring your students’ reactions to an article about the candidates is another. Pretending that you don’t hear what the kids are saying is doing a disservice to them. There is a way to discuss the election without being biased. We have no idea what kind of conversations are going on inside of the classroom, but some how Kennedy’s sugar cookie candidate seems to have caused her to take a liking to John McCain because she never even mentioned his name prior to the Cookie Campaign.

Fast forward to yesterday. A commercial for Nickelodeon came on about kids voting for president. Barack Obama was the winner on Nickelodeon. This is the conversation that followed:
Great-Grandmother: Who are you gonna vote for Kennedy?
Kennedy: John McCain
My Sister: Why?
Kennedy: Because I love him!
My Sister: Why do you love him?
Kennedy: He talks really nice.
My Sister: What about Barack Obama?
Kennedy: He’s good. He talks nice too, but I’m going to vote for John McCain.

At that point, my sister just gave up. Forcing a 4 year old to vote democrat just seemed insignificant. I can’t help thinking that this Cookie Campaign has something to do with it. Is she connecting John McCain to the sugar cookie or is this just a result of her liking sugar cookies better than chocolate chip? I wonder what would happened if both classes were polled on their picks for president? I wonder if the chocolate chip cookie class would lean towards Obama and vice versa for the sugar cookie?

While I am a bit crushed that my little angel is already leaning towards the Republican Party, my concern is deeper than this. Children tend to develop their own bias at a very young age based on their environment and society in general. I am thrilled that Kennedy did not have anything negative to say about Obama because too often black children possess an internalized racism based on how our culture negatively portrays black people. As an educator, I’ve seen this time and time again in my classrooms. The only way that I’ve found to combat this is to continuously expose children to positive images of people who look like them. I believe we have done this for my niece, so I am optimistic that this situation will not manifest into something else. I’ll keep you posted on the outcome of the cookie campaign.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Senior Security

This week, all of the states where you can vote early opened up their polls. We've actually been able to vote early in Georgia for a couple of weeks now. I will be working out of town (to my great dismay) on election day, so I voted last week. I went with my sister and my 86 year old grandmother (Nanny). I was amazed at how many people were in line at 10am on a Thursday! I mean there had to have been almost two hundred people. I really wanted to take a picture with my camera phone, but I did not want to bring any undue attention to myself.

I convinced Nanny to register to vote a few months ago. She hasn't voted in like 30 years or something. However, she was more than happy to vote with us last week. Because we showed up with a senior over 75, we were ushered to the front of the line. I felt a little guilty as the line of voters snarled at us while they continued to stand in a line that they were sure not to get out of for a couple of hours.

Once we entered the voting area, I was able to assist Nanny with casting her vote. The poll worker asked me why I was assisting her since she is not disabled and she can read English. I replied, "because she's 86 ears old and she's never used a computer before." I was very proud of Nanny. I did not vote for her. She pressed all of the buttons herself. The voting quarters were so tight, you had no privacy while casting your vote. I tried to whisper as Nanny continued to ask questions about every page. I was a little nervous because I didn't want them to think I was influencing her in any way. I just kept saying, "just choose whoever you think is best Nanny." Fifteen minutes later, we both had finished voting and I felt liberated.

This election is historical for many reasons. It's personally historical for me because I had the opportunity to vote with my 86 year old grandmother, who didn't always have the right to vote because she is black and because she is a woman. She has seen things in her lifetime that are unimaginable to me, and now with this election, she will see history being made that she never thought she would see in her lifetime. So I urge you. If you can vote early, do so. And if you have someone special in your life over the age of 75, take them along and combat those long lines with your own personal senior security.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Foodie Fridays Launch: Pumpkin Passion #1

Today I'm launching my new meme, Foodie Fridays, where I will be showcasing food related topics. I'll try not to stray too far away from diversity, but food is one of my passions (eating is actually my favorite pastime), so I feel obligated to devote special time to it. My goal is to post something food related every Friday. Wish me luck! Here's the first installment:

Ode to Pumpkin......
My favorite fall friend
I am a fiend for your fabulously flavored food
IHOP's Pumpkin Pancakes.............
My lips passionately part with every pleasurable piece
Starbucks's Pumpkin Spiced Latte..............
Lingering on my palette all day after I drink
The Cheesecake Factory's Pumpkin Cheesecake..........
Chilling, yet charming so rich it's alarming
How I love thee oh pumpkin.........
Let me count the ways!

As you can tell, I have quite an unhealthy obsession with pumpkin food. I blame my mother for always making me the yummiest homemade pumpkin bread as a child (and also now as an adult). She's actually coming to visit today, and I'm secretly praying that she smuggled some of her famous bread onto the plane. I'm convinced this addiction began in the womb.

If you are not enjoying the pumpkin flavors of the fall, I urge you to go out and sample a few. The places I mentioned in my ode are great locations to start your journey into Pumpkin Paradise. Please feel free to share any tasty pumpkin recipes or foodie finds. I would love to indulge! Fellow foodies unite!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October is National Diversity Awareness Month!

Take time out this month to celebrate your own diversity and the diversity around you. Think about ways that you can be not only tolerant, but inclusive. And always remember--as we say on the What If Diversity Network--"an open mind is a terrible thing to close." Click on the post to see a diversity calendar.