Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yep, They're Teaching Your Kids, Too...

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When I was growing up, I looked up to my teachers. I felt they could do no wrong. Long after I realized that my parents were only human, I still adored my teachers. I lapped up what they served without question. It wawsn't until later that I realized they, too, were imperfect.

I wrote yesterday about how I have a thing with grammar and discovered a book where someone went through and did the editing after printing - yep, a library book. It cracked me up.

It doesn't crack me up so much when it's a teacher making the same mistakes. I hold teachers to a higher standard since they're the ones who are imparting the rules to impressionable children who may forever make mistakes if they don't know a subject backwards and forwards themselves.

And I do see it on a disappointingly regular basis. The wee ones' teachers send home weekly newsletters to the parents notifying us of what has transpired in the past week and what homework the kids should focus on in the coming week.

They aren't that complicated, nor are they terribly complex. That doesn't stop the teachers from making basic mistakes that cause me to cringe over what the wee ones are and will be learning from them.

Some recent examples:

Its the first Friday of the month... - Ummm, no, "It's the first Friday" actually. It is. It's. It's is a contraction of the two words it is. Its is a possessive pronoun meaning belonging to it. It does not own the first Friday, nor can it.

Between the three classrooms, we have... - Seriously? You can only be between two things. You have to be "among" three or more things. Or amongst if you lived in Europe and still tend to use some of their words.

Try to do this each day and make sure... - Run-on sentence alert. Those are two separate commands, each standing on its own as an individual sentence if needed. Please add a comma after "day" to show where the two sentences split.

Their is a field trip... - Really? Their, there, and they're sound the same, but they are definitely not the most complex of the homynyms. They're is a contraction. Their means belonging to them. The field trip belongs to them?

We hope your enjoying... - Another one? Your and you're are just like its and it's. Go back to the rule my third grade teacher taught: "When using a word like you're, it's, and the like, say it without the contraction 'it is Sunday' or 'you are a girl' to see if you should use the contraction or not."

Sometimes I think it's a shame that I don't have the patience for homeschooling. It's appalling to me that teachers who are focusing on grammar for young students don't know the rules themselves. I remind myself that I'm not perfect either, and instead I'll be going over the wee ones' homework daily to ensure that they learn to use grammar properly. It's probably not a bad refresher for me anyway!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

At Least I'm Not The Only One...

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I love grammar. I know, I know... it's unusual, but I really do. I love the rules of it, and it makes language flow so easily when they're followed. I have always had a relatively easy time figuring out how grammar works, whether because I read so much as a child or because I learned French at a young age which then translated well, I'm not sure. (I will admit that I'm nowhere near perfect, but I generally managed to avoid the most egregious errors!)

Not surprisingly, bad grammar has become a pet peeve of mine. I see it everywhere. In fact, I have a wedding coming up and chose the B&B where my husband and I will stay based on which one had the fewest grammatical errors on its site. "We except VISA and Mastercard" and " has seperete queen beds" being only two examples of what I saw.

It drives me most nuts when I see errors in newspapers and books. Books are edited repeatedly by multiple people. Simple errors just shouldn't happen, but I see spelling errors all the time. I see places where quotation marks were forgotten or words horribly misused and more. When I see these errors, I mentally cringe.

Apparently some people feel even more strongly than I do. I was recently reading a book (yeah yeah - it was a historical romance, my brain candy) and throughout, someone had let their feelings be known.

Who and whom are among the most difficult distinctions for people to make. This reader is correct that "whom" should be used here, but I have to admit that I generally give people a pass when they misuse these two words.

This was the one where I somewhat disagreed with the ahhhh editor.  While the sentence is more proper with "dancing with him made possible her difficult vow to avoid Magnus" than "dancing with him made her difficult vow to avoid Magnus possible," I don't have an issue with the way it's written. Ahhh, someone who's pickier than I. Finally.

This one is a pet peeve of mine, however. Between requires "her" without a doubt. I had a teacher once who explained it to the class this way: "Replace the word with I or me (as the case may be). It's much easier to see which one sounds better. Then be sure to use the corresponding form of the pronoun you want to use." Watch.  "transpired between I and Magnus" - ouch! Doesn't that hurt your ears? Let's try "transpired between me and Magnus" - ahhhh, much better!

Made up words are another pet peeve of mine. I'll never forget working on consulting and having a partner actually use the (non)word "orientated" in a presentation. Don't get me started on "irregardless." Apparently this reader felt the same way about "portraiturist."

Near the end of the book, I think this poor reader reached her limit. I love her display of frustration. (I assume it's a her both because of the type of book and by looking at the handwriting, but I could be wrong, I suppose.)

Seeing these little updates in the book made me giggle - even more than the book itself did. I've often dreamt of becoming an editor so that I could fix these types of errors (as well as so I could rewrite poorly written passages). It's always nice to see that I'm not the only one who feels this way. I'll bet it was awfully satisfying to fix that pet peeve.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

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I have noticed that Mister Man does much better when he's going into a situation when he has protein in him. If he has a gymnastics or tae kwon do class or if he's headed to school or elsewhere, I have found that he is able to concentrate so much better when he eats some protein beforehand.

To that end, I now ensure that he eats some protein at breakfast. When he gets home from school, I give him something before he has his first activity. Usually it's a tuna roll up or a PB&J sandwich or some leftover chicken or something from the night before.

When I had a party at my house on Friday last week, I got creative with my protein, and everyone loved it. It's a riff off something I've seen elsewhere - and like most things I make - it's something that can easily be changed around to suit your tastes. And really, how cute are these? I'm definitely making them again!

Funny Flowers

Rice cakes
Peanut butter (I used almond butter - you could also use Nutella, mmmm!)
Flax seeds (or sunflower seeds or dried fruit or whatever)

Spread the peanut butter over the rice cakes. Slice the grapes in half, and arrange them on the edge of the rice cakes like flower petals. Sprinkle the flax seeds in the middle. Serve immediately (or refrigerate - since I use the all natural organic stuff with no stabilizers - and serve within a day).

Watch their little faces shine! Enjoy this and more with Tempt My Tummy and Blessed with Grace.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's Not What You Have; It's How You Play

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I'm thinking of annnnnnnnn animal! Mister Man excitedly shouts.

Hmmm, is it an animal that you might typically have as a pet? I ask.

Nope, definitely not a pet, he giggles.

Oooo, ooo, pick me, pick me! shouts Anthony (not his real name).

Go ahead, Anthony. It's your turn, I gently explain.

Is it extinct? he inquires.

YES! shouts Mister Man enthusiastically.

Is it a dinosaur, asks Sharon (not her real name).

Why, yes, it is a dinosaur, Mister Man nods.

Yay! I won. It's my turn now, bounces Sharon.

No, you need to figure out what kind of dinosaur it is, Mister Man corrects.

Ummm, is it a carnivore? I attempt weakly, knowing this game suddenly got harder.

Yes! It's a carnivore, Mommy! Mister Man proudly declares.

Is it a T-Rex? asks Anthony.


Is it an allosaurus? asks Violet (still not her real name).

I give up. I don't know dinosaurs, pouts Sharon.

Nope, it's not an allosaurus, grins Mister Man.

Is it... a velociraptor? I venture.

No, Mom. It's not from the Jurassic Period. It lived in the Cretaceous Period, Mister Man grinds out (ok, so my accuracy might be getting a bit off here - I can't keep track of the details of dinosaurs - sadly, my eyes still glaze over a little bit after too much detail).

Is it an Argentinosaurus? asks Violet.

No. You're in the wrong period. Mom was closest, Mister Man replies.

Is it an eoraptor? I'm digging for any dinosaur I can think of now.

No, Mom. You have the wrong period again, his impatience is growing (as is that of the rest of us in the car).

Is it a pteronodon? asks Anthony.

That isn't even a dinosaur! complains Mister Man. No actual dinosaurs ever flew. They just lived at the same time as the dinosaurs.

The game continued on, and eventually we all gave up, with Mister Man announcing a dinosaur he insists I've heard of but that I can't name for the life of me now. He chose Violet to have the next turn, and luckily she chose a rainbow, which was far easier to guess.

As I'm driving carpool four mornings of five, I have five children in my car from kindergarten to second grade - with more personalities amongst them than you can shake a stick at. They all have their different likes and disllikes and preferences for what they want to do.

To keep the peace in the car, I somehow stumbled on playing Twenty Questions instead of arguing over whether we would listen to Radio Disney, Kids Place Live, or Cinemagic on the way to school. I'm pretty sure it came from me picking a letter in the alphabet to see who would get to choose the next song on the radio.

Every day now, we play Twenty Questions. Anthony almost always picks a sports team (fortunately I can rattle off just about all the teams from the NFL, MLB and NHL). Sharon likes to choose people who are generally teachers or relatives. Little Miss goes for fish, and Violet chooses things. Mister Man, of course, always has a different dinosaur. Having played often enough now, it makes it easier for me to narrow down the mysterious item, and it's a joy to watch the five children all working together to play a game where they all know the rules and have to respect each other to earn a turn.

I think about the bus Little Miss used to ride to preschool where she was the only child on the bus not immersed in a handheld video game of some sort. I see the families out for a nice dinner together where the children never interact with anyone or anything - including the wait staff - other than their video games.

And you know what? I feel sorta sorry for them. The wee ones never complain about being bored, and it's hilarious to watch the games they come up with for themselves. Give them a pen and paper or three pieces of Lego or anything really, and they can turn it into something amazing - which usually draws me into the game, too, as I find it fascinating what they create and how they use their imaginations. I hope that this serves them well in later years, as I know the day will come when their phones or computers or video games will enter their lives and we won't have our fun little games.

That day is a ways off, and in the meantime I'm enjoying the time I have with the wee ones. I love coming up with off the wall games from finding every word we can think of that starts with a certain letter to seeing how many steps it takes us to walk around the dining room table - forwards and backwards.

And by the way, I can get around my table in eleven steps now. It used to take me fourteen.

This post was inspired by the book Room by Emma Donoghue that was this month's selection for my Left to Write book club where we read a book but don't review it - instead we write a post inspired by something in the book. I received a copy of this book, but there is no compensation, and all opinions are my own. As a side note, I'm sorry, but no, I would not recommend this book. I haven't slept through the night in the six nights since I finished it. It's not my kind of book.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This Is Why I Do Homework

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Every Monday, Little Miss's kindergarten teacher sends home a packet of homework. It's generally six or so pages of things for them to practice - from grouping numbers to figuring out the first letter in a word and the like. I sort of like it, as it allows us to do the homework throughout the week when we have time and Little Miss is in the right mindset to work.

Granted, it's in Spanish, so it takes Little Miss a bit longer than I'd expect to complete it, but it's not rocket science yet. And thankfully, the teacher provides the vocabulary words so that I know that "ojo" starts with and "o" and not an "e" like it does in English (that would be an eye, by the way - I'm learning a bit of Spanish, too!

This week, the homework didn't come home until Tuesday. With Mister Man's OT session on Mondays, Little Miss and I usually knock out the majority of it while he's there. And Tuesday and Wednesday this week, we were occupied doing other things. Thursday my husband kept Little Miss at home while I took Mister Man to tae kwon do. I requested that he be sure Little Miss does her homework, including the vocabulary words (colors and all sorts of things related to apples and trees).

When I arrived home an hour and a half later, I was informed that everything was done. My husband was sitting on the floor in the homework room, essentially napping, and Little Miss was paging through books. I nodded, thanked him, and proceeded to make dinner (yes - I was gone for an hour and a half while my husband was at home after school and I still made dinner).

I noticed yesterday morning that Little Miss's homework was still sitting on her desk, and that it was open to the last page. I took a quick look at it to see what she was doing this week... and I sighed.

On this page, she is supposed to write the first letter of each word in both capital and lowercase. They are focusing on correct formation, meaning they need to start and end at the proper places on the lines, for instance. Interstingly, only one word had both the capital and lower case letter. And few were written properly (she's fully capable of writing them properly, so this is not asking too much).

I decided that maybe I should flip through the rest of the packet. That's when I noticed this page.

It's simple enough - simply write in the missing numbers - and Little Miss loves to count, so knowing her numbers is an easy thing for her. Note that she simply forgot to complete one of the numbers. It wasn't because she didn't know how; she simply didn't see it.

Now, I'm not a parent who believes in doing homework for my wee ones, but I absolutely believe in looking over what they've done and pointing out where they need to fix things. Doing something for the sake of doing it rather than to reinforce what you've learned just doesn't seem to make sense to me - yet.

I'm somewhat entertained that my husband - who is a teacher - simply points her at the homework, tells her the directions, and then assumes she's done when she says she is without veryifying anything. Once the wee ones are older and should have proper study habits developed, I'll likely go much closer to this route.

But for now, with Little Miss and Mister Man in early elementary? I'll be making sure they do their homework - and do it right.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good-Bye Family Dinners

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I am a firm believer in the importance of family dinners, and I know that there is a ton of research out there showing how much impact that has on children's development and their character as they grow older.

For me, a family dinner isn't just all sitting down together. I ban any reading materials at the table (a habit to which my husband still periodically reverts). There is no tv on (ok, so we don't have the tv on at all when the wee ones are awake). We have conversations on whatever strikes out mood, and sometimes they're admittedly pretty silly.

Beyond that, we stay sitting at the table until everyone is done. Just because you finished eating doesn't mean that everyone is done. I think it's rude to get up and put your dishes away or start working on chores when the rest of us are still eating (uhhh yeah, you caught me; I'm a slow eater). The family dinner to me isn't just about the food, but it's about the respect and the company and the time together.

I've drummed this into the head of everyone in my family, and it sticks there most of the time (my husband still wants to go do stuff once he finishes eating). To date, we've been pretty successful at the family dinners. There are certainly times when my husband is working way past the dinner hour, and it's just the wee ones and I. And there are nights when I have other commitments and am not home to eat with the wee ones, and I hope my husband sits and enjoys the time with them, too.

Last night was our first night of having this domestic bliss spoiled.

Little Miss had gymnastics from 5:15-6:15, so she was gone from the house from before 5 until after 6:30. Mister Man had his first Cub Scout meeting (anyone need Christmas wreaths?) from 6:30-8 so was gone from 6 to 8:30. Their dinners for the first time ever did not overlap.

It was bittersweet for me, a real moment that showed just how quickly the wee ones are growing up. I had to create two separate dinner times for the wee ones.

Luckily, my dad was taking Little Miss to gymnastics, so I could organize things. I had two dinners last night. I ate a mini bowl of ravioli with Mister Man and my husband at 5:30. At 6:30, I ate a second mini-bowl of ravioli with Little Miss while my dad watched (he had ordered takeout pizza for himself so decided not to eat with us).

As much as I loved spending the time one on one with the wee ones, it broke my heart to realize that this is merely the first night of many. Soon the wee ones will be going hither and yon on a regular basis where a quick dinner in the car while hoping to get one to a practice or game on time while trying to race to pick the other up from a different practice or game. Someday, the family dinner will be more of the exception than the norm, and I will mourn these days.

At the same time, I wouldn't hold back the wee ones and their development for anything. I love that they're growing up and becoming more independent. I love that they're discovering passions that will define them for years to come.

As much as I'd like to, I can't buckle them into booster seats and hold them at the table forever. After all, I'd bet they already don't even fit in those old seats. I'm not giving up on family dinners though. Every night we're together, the same rules will apply. I just hope we have more nights than not that we are together.

Welllll until they head off to college. I suppose family dinners then would get a little awkward.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

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Ahhhh, fall has arrived in Chicago. I can once again turn on my oven and begin cooking inside... more often. I wish I could share today's fun and glorious baking that will soon be on our table several times a week, but I'm saving that for next week aws I gain some more experience with this new technique. Trust me, it's worth waiting for and so easy.

In the interim, I made some ohhhh so yummy bar cookies for Little Miss's school carnival this weekend. Unfortunately, that meant that the vast majority of them were given away for the cake walk and to be sold in the food court. I'll be making them again soon, you can bet on that!


1 1/4 c flour
1 c rolled oats
¾ c packed brown sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
12 T butter, melted
6 oz chocolate chips
1/2 chopped pecans (this is about the only time you'll see me make anything with nuts; I'm not generally a fan, but they are so good in these!)
3/4 c caramel syrup

Combine 1 cup flour, oats, sugar, soda, salt and butter. Blend with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a greased 11” by 7” baking pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for ten minutes.

Remove the pan and sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans over the crust. Mix caramel topping with remaining 1/4 cup of flour. Pour over the chips and nuts. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top. Put the pan back into the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Cool and chill. Cut into squares. This is definitely better the next day - so make them ahead!

Enjoy this and more with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Blessed With Grace!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Time To Clean Out The Purse...

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So this morning I was looking for my bluetooth. I don't like to drive carpool without it. Not only do I have five children in my car who can - on occasion - be a little loud, but in Illinois it's illegal to talk on your cell phone while in a school zone. Our area has interpreted this to mean that handsfree is ok, and as much as I sometimes am the rebel, this is not one of those instances.

I didn't (duh!) have time for a major search before driving carpool, so I had to wait to search until I got home a little later in the day. I knew it was somewhere in my house, luckily. Even more luckily, it was charged, so I had proof of this. When I tried calling someone, my phone immediately hooked into my bluetooth, which it won't do if I am more than 35 feet from it or if it isn't charged and turned on.

Phew. I know I didn't lose it (which is my paranoia because it's a tiny little thing)! The trick was to find it. I drove my car around the block and saw that it still had a connection, so it had to be somewhere in my car. It, of course, doesn't belong in my car, but that doesn't stop it from falling out of my purse. And no, it wasn't in the zipped pocket of my purse where it does belong.

I searched high and low in my car, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I finally gave up and went inside.

As I thought more on it, I realized that it had to be somewhere within my cavernous purse (I'm still not used to carrying a large purse). It's possible that it's accumulated more than what it should have and that the bluetooth may have fallen somewhere inside there ... where it doesn't quite belong.

Thus commenced my purse cleaning.

I am still not used to carrying such a large, cavernous purse, and it's possible that things accumulate here that never used to in my old smaller purses. I'd like to note that my camera was also in my purse, but I never figured out how to take a picture of my camera in my purse with my camera.

Yes, my wallet is huge. I have a ton of loyalty and unused gift cards in my wallet, which makes up the majority of the girth. If only it were cash that made it impossible to close instead of a ummm Marshall Fields gift card, among others (yes, I still have a Marshall Fields gift card in my wallet that has money on it).

I have gum in there, and luckily, it wasn't just an empty container and there were zero empty gum papers anywhere in the purse - go me.  There were even seven pieces of gum left!

Ahhhh, my iGo.  How I love my iGo.  How it let me recharge my phone so that I could stream the Northwestern game while working at Little Miss's school carnival on Saturday.  Oh.  Yeah.  It's totally out of batteries and needs to be charged - tell me you're surprised.

Aren't these cute?  They have been living in my purse for over a year.  I'm not quite sure why I keep them in there if I'm not going to use them.  I always feel a little weird when I see people brushing their teeth in public places.  And hey, I've got the gum already.  And I have no more need to be somewhere sans my toothbrush overnight...

Ahhh, my collapsible hairbrush with its mirror.  Granted, I keep my hair curly 99% of the time, so I don't need to brush my hair.  The mirror is awfully handy though. Ok ok ok.  I keep it for Little Miss because of her rat's nest of a head of hair that looks like she slept in it two minutes after I brushed it.

Car keys.  'nuff said, no?

Ummm a random sample of body spray that I got this summer when I went to go see a movie?  Yeah, so I probably (ok, I really really really hope I) don't need that in my purse.

Lotion - always a good thing to keep on hand, especially as winter and dry, chapped hands season is settling into Chicago.

And hand sanitizer.  I'm really not a an of it actually.  But what kind of mom doesn't carry it with her?

Oooo look, a quarter!  I found money.  Then again, this isn't quite the same as when I find money in the washer that actually doesn't belong to me.  My balloon deflates.

Uhhhh five working pens.  Do I get credit for the fact that all five are working and I'm not carrying around any that are out of ink at least?

Yeah... now we get to the really useless stuff.  This would be a little jiggly snake thing that Mister Man got from the kids' area at our hotel in Florida for correctly guessing the trivia question.  Uhhh yes, that would be since the second week of August.  And it isn't even mine.  Oops.  I've since given it to him to play with.

Ahhh, I remember last Monday when I brought supplies to Mister Man's OT session so she could get it done while we waited.  Annnnnnnd they're still in my purse.

Along with crayons from some restaurant we've visited lately.  Or maybe multiple restaurants.  Wait, maybe having crayons in my purse makes me a good mom.  Hmmm....  Nah, only if I actually let the wee ones color with them, I suppose.

And apparently I'm also carrying around nail polish just in case I need a touch up while I'm out and about.  It might help if that were the color (or close to it) that I'm wearing now.

I also have a lovely selection of lip products from lipsticks to lip glosses to lip plumpers to healing balms.  You never know what mood you'll be in.  Yep, that's why I have twelve - count 'em, twelve - different ones in my purse.  Yikes!

Ooo look, it's a little ponytailer for Little Miss!  Because I would have been able to find it in my purse had I needed to put her hair up for gymnastics after forgetting to do so.  Yep, absolutely.  *sigh*

And then there's the assorted detrius - receipts, tickets, cards, and so forth.  The vast majority of it?  Garbage.

You'll note that you see no sunglasses in there. Unfortunately I actually did lose those, and I know exactly where. I traded out this purse for my normal small one earlier in the week and the sunglasses didn't fit in it. They fell off the top, and I forgot about them until it was too late. And by "too late" I mean the next day when it was sunny and I couldn't see a thing because my light blue overly sensitive eyes couldn't bear that harsh rays of the sun's light. And by "sunny" I mean it was daylight and there were white clouds all over the sky.

On the plus side, my bluetooth was in the bottom of my purse somewhere. Phew! I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture of it though.

Since I returned only selected items to my purse: my wallet, the gum, two pens, two lip glosses, my keys, my phone (which was also not pictured but was in there), a fully charged iGo (seriously, I go nowhere without this anymore), the hairbrush, lotion, and of course a new pair of sunglasses. It's amazing how light my purse is now - and I suppose it also explains why my shoulder had started to bother me.

I'm almost ready to move to a smaller purse. My iGo doesn't fit in my super small purses though (and my new phone doesn't fit so great either), so I'm stuck for the moment with this one. I think it's time to invest in some midsize purses....

So what do you find in your purses?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm Such A Rebel!

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Both the wee ones' schools - as I'm sure the majority of yours - have a rule. If you child is sick, the child must stay home. If there is a fever over 99.5 degrees, diarrhea, vomting, etc - stay home. And that includes for 24 hours after symptoms subside.

I understand the rule completely. There have been plenty of times when I thought the wee ones were fine, only to have symptoms recur four or five hours later. I'd much rather ensure the wee ones are totally healthy before sending them back to school than push them and have them be sicker longer.

The parents who send their kids back to school because they gave their kids Tylenol and the fever went away? Oh they drive me nuts. Tylenol is a fever rdeucer not an illness remover, and those children are most likely still contagious and getting others sick when they're at school when they shouldn't be.

On a side note, I firmly believe that this rule should hold for teachers, too. I get that you have only so many sick days (although being married to a teacher, you have way more sick days than I ever did, and he'll likely retire with the maximum days banked) and don't want to miss out on teaching if at all possible, but I don't want you getting my wee ones sick either! Stay home if you're sick.

I write this as my husband - a teacher - is upstairs sleeping at 1:30pm. It's the second time in the last two or so weeks that he's been sick (shouldn't he be immune by now?), and he's miserable. He called a sub last night and didn't even go to the school to set up the classroom for the sub, which he usually does even when sick. When he had his cold two weeks ago though? He went into school just dosed up on DayQuil, much to my chagrin.

I haven't always followed this requirement though.

In fact, I can think of a specific instance when I sent Little Miss back to school about eight hours after her last incident of diarrhea. I had a good reason, though. I promise.

Little Miss has had a huge issue with dairy, and we've kept her clean for almost two years. Or ... nearly clean. Her teachers in preschool a year and a half ago gave her cheddar Goldfish, not realizing that there would be dairy in them. I'm not sure if the word "cheddar" or "cheese" was more confusing, or if they simply neglected to look at the box with the big milk in bold letters just under the ingredient list showing allergens.

Needless to say, I got a call from the nurse shortly thereafter saying that I needed to come pick up Little Miss, as she'd had two nasty bouts of diarrhea already. I found out about the Goldfish the next day.

That was on a Monday. On Wednesday, she was still suffering, my poor girl. She'd missed three days of school because her teachers had given her a food she was not allowed to have - though her allergy was well-known and documented in the classroom. I was not a happy camper.

Once she made it through Wednesday overnight unscathed and it had been almost three full days, I knew she was fine. She'd managed to get to the bathroom in time the entire previous day, and her classroom had a bathroom in it. There was no way she was contagious (much as I wished at that time that she could pass her dairy allergy along to the teacher who gave her the Goldfish), as she hadn't been "sick" before that anyway.

So.... Thursday morning, I sent her off to school. Luckily, she had no issues, and I received an apology from the teacher. But technically, she shouldn't have returned to school probably until the following Monday, as she was still a little ummmmmm off on Thursday. Shhhhh, don't tell that I broke the rule there (and no, if it was an actual contagious illness, I wouldn't have done it).

My only hope right now is that we contain the current illness to the "sick room" (read: guest bedroom) where my husband is currently quarrantined. I'm already tired of being the nurses on call! (And I mean that in the nicest possible way....)

Wish us luck. I'm off to go down some more Vitamin D!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Please Remove Your Head From Your Nether Regions

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There are times when I am sometimes truly amazed by how inwardly focused are sometimes. That's not to say that there aren't days when I am selfish and unaware of things that are going on around me, but I sure hope that I don't fall into these categories.

Dear Mom At Gymnastics,

I know there aren't great places to view what's going on inside the gym, especially for small children. The row of small windows they provide isn't the easiest to see.

But having your child sit or stand on the very narrow ledge that they built to cover the coat hooks so that no one injures themselves accidentally bumping into them - well, really is that the smartest thing to do?

We won't get into the fact that your child standing there then blocks the view for everyone else in the area.

Or the fact that the gym has requested multiple times that you not place your children on the ledge for safety reasons. Or the fact that the gym now has a notes pasted every (literally) two feet on the windows asking you to keep your children off the ledge.

Please, make sure that your child - who was previously racing up and down the hallway with a lollipop in his mouth - can see his sister on the balance beam while no one else can see. At least you have the justification of not being able to read the sign requesting that your child stay off the ledge because he's blocking it while sitting on the ledge. Oh, wait. There's another one by your left elbow.



Dear Dad In the Carpool Line,

Generally, I feel badly when I'm dropping off the carpool. After all, there is only a ten minute window of six cars at a time dropping off children, and I have four children who have to pile out of my car. They don't always do it as quickly as I'd like, and I feel badly that we're holding up the line.

I don't feel so badly anymore.

Yesterday, I was dropping off the carpool, and after everyone piled out of the car, I noticed that your passenger door was still open. I felt for you - I always worry that the carpool kids will get out of the car and leave me with my door hanging open. It isn't easy to fix. I waited for your to reach over to close it.

And I waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, I saw movement. It was a girl climbing out of the car to go to school. Uhhhh, you held up the line for four minutes waiting for her to get out of the car? You do realize that with the narrow dropoff lane, no one can get past you until you leave, right?

At least she finally got out of the car - and closed the door behind her!

Or so I thought until I saw you waving at her, while remaining in park. She slowly walked toward the school, and you continued waving. I apologize for the lights flashing at you, but c'mon!

I'm grateful that you started moving forward at least. For the first three feet before you stopped to continue watching her progress toward the school. Again, my apologies for the slight horn honk. Really. But move already! Anyone who wasn't in our group of six now has kids who are late for school because of you.

By the time you left the line and allowed the rest of us to get along with our day, it was six minutes after the start of school. If your daughter needs that much assistance getting into school, might I suggest that you park and walk her in next time?


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

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Strawberry Shortcake DVDs here
9Lives Prize Pack here
Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Products here


With all the fun I've been having lately with Better for BlogHer, I've been craving Asian food. I absolutely adore it (if you can't tell by some of the recipes I have up), and it's usually surprisingly easy to make at home.

For whatever reason, orange chicken was bugging me the other day. I had such a taste for it, but it's so bad for you when you get it at a restaurant. And really... how hard could it be to make?

So I went searching online to look at recipes and then compiled a few and changed things here and there and came up with my own recipe. Bonus? This made enough sauce that I only needed half of it for a single recipe. The rest is in the freezer for the next time I make it. Score!

Orange Chicken

2 lbs chicken breasts
1 1/2 c water
Juice of an orange (save the zest!)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce
zest of 2 oranges (I used a navel and a tangerine because that's what I had)
1 c brown sugar
1/2 inch ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
3 T cornstarch
2 T water

Cut your chicken into bite sized pieces. Set that aside while you make the orange sauce.

In a large saucepan combine 1 1/2 cups water, lemon juice, orange juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic. Heat on medium while stirring periodically until it boils.

While the sauce is getting to a boil, heat a large nonstick pan with a little bit of oil (I used grapeseed but anything from olive oil to peanut oil will work). Add the chicken pieces and sautee (no, I don't fry - but you could absolutely bread your chicken and fry the pieces. I justify this dish as being healthy because I sautee them, and they turned out great). Cook until they are no longer pink inside.

Once your orange sauce comes to a boil, combine 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water and mix thoroughly. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into sauce until it thickens.

Reserve half your sauce for later use. Pour the remaining sauce over your sauteed chicken and stir to coat. I served it with the traditional rice, and it was gobbled up.

Enjoy this and more with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and The Well (this week's host)! Did I mention this took me less than a half hour start to finish? A half hour for such yummy goodness people (ok, excluding the rice that takes an hour in my cooker)!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Life Fits Me Fine

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When I was in kindergarten, I was so very jealous of Jennie O. She got to have a Halloween party at her house. My mom would never have let me have a Halloween party like Jennie.

In first grade, I was jealous of Brooke B. Her mom let her be a model, and she had a picture in the JC Penney ads where she was blowing a bubble. I wasn't pretty enough to be a model like Brooke.

In second grade, Katie W got to sit next to Andrew, who I had the biggest crush on. Even though I was one of his three girlfriends (ummmm yeah, he was a cool dude back then), I wanted to be the only one, and I wanted to be Katie.

In third grade, Nicky S was in ballet and had the coolest leotard and tights. I had tried ballet and lasted only six months because I hated it so much, but I still wanted to be Nicky.

In fourth grade, Keely B seemed to have all the friends, and her life looked so easy. I wanted Ben and Paul and Brian and Will to be hanging all over me like they did Keely.

In fifth grade, Lizzy L was the fastest runner I knew. She could even beat the boys, and I wanted to be her more than ever.

And so on it went...

In college, I found my own stride, and things were pretty smooth. I was happy with my life and what I was doing, and I honestly can't think of anyone I truly envied.

After college, I looked at Carrie J and how she juggled an awesome job - doing the same thing as me but at a different company - and a stream of boyfriends who adored her. I dated a couple guys I didn't even like so that I could be like her. Fortunately I came to my senses and stopped that pattern. But Carrie led the charmed life I wanted.

As I had the wee ones, I saw all my neighbors and friends quitting their jobs to joyously stay home with their children. I kept working and looked at my friend Lisa D with envy for her easy life. Then I quit my job when the wee ones were 2 and not yet 1. It was a miserable life for me for a variety of reasons, and I soon went back to work.

I'm not sure exactly where I realized that my life is my life - and I like it that way. No matter how golden someone's life appears, it isn't truly as it appears. There's always some wrinkle that you don't know about that adds pain or strife or stress in some way. Our own lives are how we design them, and mine really fits me quite nicely.

I've figured out how to stay home with the wee ones and enjoy it. I fill the time I have doing things I - generally - enjoy, and I take pride in what I accomplish. I found a man to marry who is everything I asked for and all that I need. Nothing is perfect, but that would get boring. Instead, I am content.

I can now look at people who have gorgeous hair and genuinely admire it without wanting to trade places. I watch the women at the gym wearing tight spandex that looks good on them as they churn off another dozen miles, and I shake my head in wonder. I watch the chefs who cook on the Food Network, and their prowess astounds me - but I wouldn't want to be them.

Welllllll, most of the time anyway....

This Post was inspired by the book "Following Polly" by Karen Bergreen, which was the From Left to Write book club selection this month. As always, our posts are not book reviews but instead are drawn from something in the book. I received a copy of the book to read for the book club, but there was no compensation involved.

PS This book get two huge thumbs up. Loved it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Little Sneak!

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Friday was a busy day for me. After getting the wee ones off to their separate schools, I had a PTO meeting for Mister Man's school then was volunteering until 4pm for an event there, which meant I had to leave in the afternoon to pick up Little Miss. Oh yeah, and it was the first grade picnic. After that, my schedule had me taking the wee ones plus Mister Man's friend Violet (not her real name) to the chiropractor and then back to school for their carnival.

Needless to say, there was a lot to remember that day, and the morning was a little hectic - even more so than normal since Violet's mom had a class that day and needed to drop her off at our house early.

I got the wee ones out the door, and then I realized that I needed to pack a lunch for myself for the picnic. And it needed to be shelf stable since I was going to be at the school until lunchtime. I hadn't planned this out, and I needed to be walking out the door pronto.

I grabbed a pack of Flatout Wraps and a pouch of tuna, plus a pint of grape tomatoes I had sitting on the counter. Done and done.

The morning was as hectic as anticipated, but everything went reasonably well. At 12:15, I took my sad little packed but not actually made lunch out to the courtyard to meet Mister Man. And of course the lovely blanket that lives in the storage compartment of my car was mysteriously not there. But that's ok - it was warm and sunny and nice.

Once the first graders came out, Mister Man started eating his lunch, while I ripped open the tuna pouch and used my fingers to lay it on the flatwrap.

And thus appeared Violet.

With both her parents working, she'd told her teachers that she was having her picnic with us - with was fine with me. I asked where her lunch was. I learned her mom had ordered hot lunch for her and that she didn't have a lunch. Except that hot lunch for first graders had been canceled because of the picnic.

And so I shared my lunch - I wasn't going to eat the entire tuna packet, and I had three flatwraps in the package. I made her a sandwich and offered her some grape tomatoes. She took the sandwich, but unfortunately she doesn't like tomatoes.

Instead, Mister Man shared his grapes with her - since she also doesn't like carrots, either. It turns out she also doesn't like plain tuna on a flatout wrap. Bummer.

The family next to us had a huge picnic - as apparently did most of the families; I was one of the few who didn't have a dozen donuts, a package of eclairs, pizza or Subway takeout - and they gladly shared their Goldfish crackers, Milano cookies, and Fruit Roll-Up with Violet. She picked up a sandwich from another family and grazed the picnic gathering the yummiest of the treats from the picnic.

No one minded sharing, and she was happy to have a special lunch.

At the end of the school day, I gathered up Mister Man and Violet and returned to the event where I was volunteering. I had Mister Man work on his homework while he waited, and Violet insisted she had none. Not believing her, I checked her backpack.

Where I found her lunchbox.

Yep, sitting nestled quietly in her backpack was her lunch that her mom had packed for her. The apple was still wrapped in a paper towel, the veggies in their container, a yogurt in a special container, and a sandwich in its little bag. Untouched.

I looked at her in disbelief. Ummm, Violet, did you know your mom packed you a lunch, Sweetie?


Is there a reason you told me that you didn't have a lunch today?

Well, I didn't want to eat it.

Oh. Of course.

I did tell her mom later - making sure that she knew no one was upset - who let me know that not only did Violet know that she had a lunch, but that Violet had also helped her mom pack it and had decided what to put into it.

What a stinker!

Friday, September 10, 2010

He's Got A Big Head

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With Little Miss in her dual language program, it's been interesting to see what comes home. Since it's all in Spanish for her right now, she doesn't understand a ton, and well I don't either. I've heard from others that it's rough until around November but the kids pick it up somehow then.

I can only hope.

In the meantime, I can see that they're working on learning important vocabulary and on certain units. Family was this week's theme, and each child created puppets of all the people in the family.

Little Miss created one for herself.

And one for Mister Man.

And one for me.

And one for my husband.

My husband wasn't thrilled. I'm still laughing - apparently Little Miss sees him as having a massive melon head. And no hair. My husband keeps insisting that he still has some hair - and I suppose he does. For now.

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