Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Works For Me Wednesday

Here is a very quick, often requested, kid's lunch.
All you need are:
1 small container of ketchup

1 small container of pretzels

1 small container with a cut up hot dog

And there you have it - make your own "Hot Dog Dippers." Put the lids on each container and pack. The kids will use the pretzels like toothpicks to poke a piece of hot dog, dip it in the ketchup, and eat.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Take Two

Apparently, while I am an exceptional menu planner, I suck at menu plan following. I planned out what I considered to be a terrific plan last week. Ask me if I did even one of the recipes? Go on, you know you want to. The answer is: NOPE!

There were lots of reasons. Monday was Presidents' Day and we all had off from school. We had the kids go to a local kids' gym for their "holiday camp" (a.k.a. 5 hours of running around the Fun Factory in an attempt to burn off lots and lots of energy) while DH and I hung out at a local independent coffee house, each of us working on our laptops. It wasn't until we headed home that I remembered my plan had been to make stew, something that should have been cooking all day. Oops. We had pizza bagels on Monday.

Tuesday the boys didn't get off their bus, requiring me to track them down (they were on the bus, just too distracted to notice their stop), causing them to get home late, causing me to have to rush everyone into the car so we could drive DN-J home and come back in time to bring J to her dance class and set up the boys on the floor of the dance studio to do their homework so I could simultaneously watch J dance, keep B focused on completing his math hw, and force A to stop looking at some lady's cell phone as she texts someone else so he could complete his spelling. Because the boys didn't get off their bus, I didn't get to cook the fish that I was planning to make before dance class, which meant when her class was over at 5:30, there was no way everyone would survive me pulling together dinner when we got home. Since the class is right next door to McDonald's, I bet you guessed what we had for dinner that night.

The list goes on. I had a migraine one night so the kids ended up with PB and H (peanut butter and honey for those of you who don't know). DH was late and I was overwhelmed with work, so hello, frozen fishsticks. And on.

However. This is the beginning of a new week. Please refer to last week's menu plan. I'm ending this post now so I can get the makings of the beef stew into the crock pot now so it will be ready to go in the morning. No slacking off this week!

Friday, February 19, 2010

100th Day

Today was our 100th day of school.

For those of you who do not teach young children, let me tell you - this is a BIG deal!

We've been counting every day of school since our very first day together. It is a favorite part of Circle Time. The "counters" helper for the day will help count the craft sticks: first we count the ones, and when we reach 10 they get bundled together to make a ten which then goes into the tens jar. Then I go to our number line (small index cards stapled to the wall, blank until I write that day's number on it) and write the number while describing to the kids how I'm writing it (ex. for 31 - "A little curve, then another little curve, and now a big line.") Today we counted our ones, bundled the ten sticks together and put that bundle into the ten jar, and THEN counted all of our tens and bundled them together and placed them in our brand new hundreds jar. Very exciting stuff!

I taught the kids a new song, one that I take no credit for as I found it online with no name attached to it:

100 Days of School sung to The Ants Go Marching 1 By 1

We've all been counting 1 by 1 - Hurrah! Hurrah!
We've all been counting, oh what fun - Hurrah! Hurrah!
We've all been counting 1 by 1,
And now 100 days are done,
Hooray! Today's the 100th day of school!

We started counting up to 10 - Hurrah! Hurrah!
To 20, 30, 40 then - Hurrah! Hurrah!
To 50, 60, 70 then, to 80, 90, now is when,
Hooray! Today's the 100th day of school!

How cute is that?!! After we learned it we began marching around the room, parade-style, as we sang, pumping our fists high in the air each time we shouted "Hurrah!"

It just so happened that our 100th day of school ended up on a Friday, a very busy day in a Jewish preschool. One activity we do every Friday is each child makes their own challah to bring home. Today our challahs were the number 100. We cut everyone's dough into three "snakes" like usual, and then everyone used their snakes to create a 1 and two zeroes.

We also had a special snack. Everyone received a quarter of a graham cracker and one Oreo and used them to create the number 100.

Hard to believe it's been 100 days. Some days the 100 days have seemed to drag on, but most days (luckily) they have flown by.

Any other teachers or parents reading this have any 100 day activities to report?


Driving DN-J home most every day creates an amazing opportunity to talk with all three kids. The other day the boys started telling me what they learned this week about Chinese New Year. B described that one custom was to sweep the dust on the front step or porch away from the house in order to get rid of bad luck.

"That's a superstition," I explained, only to be bombarded with the question of what a superstition was by all the kids at once. "A superstition," I began, "is something that some people believe to be true and it usually involves good luck or bad luck." I tried to think of an easy example for them. "For example, some people think the number 13 is unlucky, and that Friday the 13th is especially unlucky."

"Do you mean triskadekaphobia?" B asks.

Yeah, I know. My jaw dropped, too.

"Um, what does that mean?"

"The fear of the number 13," B replied matter-of-factly. Yeah, of course, should have guessed.

Now before you get too impressed, when I asked B where he had learned such a big word, he answered the same way he has been answering every time some one asks him where he learned something really impressive. School? His parents? No, of course not.

"Watching Fetch with Ruff Ruffman." You know, the tv show. On the one hand, I'm thilled he remembered and was able to apply this interesting fact to our conversation. On the other hand, what, his father and I are both teachers - do we teach him NOTHING?!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I got a bunch of meat already cut up for stew last week on sale. This recipe was on the Organizing Junkie's website under "Family Favorite Recipes" so I figured we would give it a try.

Salmon was also on sale last week, but I never got around to making this recipe. I love and will often pick recipes from there to make for all kinds of occasions. I make sure to pick out ones that have been reviewed by lots of people AND have at least four and a half stars.

Wednesday: Easy Mini Quiche
Another Allrecipes new one.

Thursday: Thai Chicken

Another one from Organizing Junkie's website.

Friday: Shabbat dinner at my parents' house - we bring a cooked vegetable.

Saturday: Mish Mash (a.k.a. leftovers)

Sunday: Dinner at my IL's

Valentine's Day

I don't believe in Valentine's Day.

There. I've said it.

I know it's pretty ironic if you read my last post, but that was all about my kids and wanting to make sure they kind of fit in at school. They couldn't be the ONLY one in each of their classes to NOT have cards to give out.

A few days ago I decided to spell it out to DH. "Honey," I said, "I love you and I know you love me. I don't need a bunch of overpriced flowers on Valentine's Day for you to prove it to me. We can still be lovey-dovey on that day, if you really want, but let's not really celebrate it this year."

He was fine with it, but still needed to clarify, "That means no cards either, right?"

"Absolutely. However - if you want to get me flowers any other day of the year, I'll fully support the gesture."

While I don't really think he is going to pick up on that hint (but if by chance he's reading this, please remember that you can get the best deal on flowers at Produce Junction, not pre-packaged at the grocery store) he did figure out a very romantic way for us to celebrate. Currently he is at McDonald's with all three kids feeding them Happy Meals. I am enjoying this momentary silence (ahhh) by blogging, reading other people's blogs, and of course, playing Tetris on Facebook. When he brings them home, I will get them ready for bed while he goes out to pick up Chinese food for the two of us to enjoy after the kids are in bed. He even picked out some romantic comedy for us to watch to watch together. Do I have a good guy or what?!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Crafty Cards

I hate boxed Valentine's Day cards. It's just a personal pet peeve of mine. I just can't stand how commericalize and impersonal they are. So this year I was thrilled that I managed to convince all three kids (and DH, who is always concerned that the kids will end up doing something so different from everyone else they will end up getting picked on) to pick a Valentine card to make to give out to their class.

J selected an idea from Family Fun magazine. We started working on it last week since she wanted to trace and cut out all the hearts (3 per Valentine) and leaves herself. I put the flowers together while J wrote the to and from on each and every leaf.
A found a different idea in the same magazine. I gave him some of my old scrapbooking paper to use and he started writing "We're Two of a kind!" on every card. After many mess-ups we soon realized that we could print out labels for him to peel and attach, which made life SO much easier. In the picture below he is giving a thumbs up to the camera.
B adapted a couple different ideas to create his splatter paint hearts.
I love that they all picked something different. I also love that we had a snow day yesterday (oh yeah, another two feet on top of the two feet we got on Saturday) so I got the chance to work with each child one at a time (something that unfortunately rarely seems to happen). I don't love the fact that we have another snow day today, the day that their Valentine's Day parties were supposed to happen (oh yeah, it was LOT of snow) but at least the parties have all been rescheduled for Tuesday, the next day the kids are in school.
I feel so crafty!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

I Like to Move It, Move It

Amazing the difference drugs can make!

Slept in a little this morning (had tons of snow yesterday so did not have to teach today) but came downstairs at a reasonable time. For some reason I put off taking my meds, so the need to sleep soon overwhelmed me and I crept back upstairs to take a nap. I finally got up (okay, with a LOT of prodding from DH), came back downstairs, and took my pills. I was still tired so I decided to read a new book. DH got ready to take the kids to my ILs (their Sunday ritual) so I went back to bed with my book. Had I not taken my medication, I would have been asleep after the first chapter. Since I did take my medication, I was able to finish the whole book (what can I say - I'm a fast reader) and am still wide awake.

Better living through chemistry - I'm living proof!

And now I have three kid-free hours in the house until DH comes back to pick me up and drive me over to the ILs for dinner. The silence sounds incredible. I do not want to waste this time like I did yesterday, so here's my plan:
  1. Pull out the Wii Fit Plus and work out. I have been doing this every day just about, and I truly love it (never thought I'd say that about exercising!), but I HATE doing it in front of an audience. I like to make my own decisions about what exercise or activity to do next and not have to explain myself to the multiple kids sitting on the couch watching me succeed or fail.
  2. Organize the multitude of coupons I have ripped out of various circulars and plan out a detailed shopping list for tomorrow. I really want to get skilled at using coupons to cut down on what we spend at the grocery store. I have found a couple blogs to look to for advice (please share more with me if you have a favorite or two) and am really excited to hopefully get good at this.
  3. Laundry. And more laundry. And then some more laundry.
  4. Write my newsletter for school and send it out. Normally I write up the highlights of what we all did this week in preschool, including things I observed (like a child spontaneously comforting another child, or 3 kids working cooperatively to complete an activity), and include some of the tons of photographs I took as documentation. Unfortunately, I accidently left my camera at school on Friday, so my newsletter will include a simple apology and in theory will be quicker and a little easier to write.
  5. Revise and update my preschool plans. We're in the middle of a three week unit on Fairy Tales ("Fairy Tale February") which began last week with Jack and the Beanstalk, the perfect way to transition from Tu B'Shevat into fairy tales. However with over two feet of snow that fell yesterday, I think we need to figure out some ways to work the snow into the unit.

That's probably all the time I will have, but if I do end up with some extra time (doubtful) I'll be tackling the paper monster that is all around me at the moment. But that is a post for another day. As for now, the Wii Balance Board is calling me, something I can hear very clearly with no other sound in the house.

Friday, February 05, 2010

My Eyelids are Heavy

First of all, even after baring my soul (so to speak) in my last post, I still failed. Another frantic morning ensued.

Secondly, I have been messing with the look of this blog a lot recently. I even went so far as to set up a blog on wordpress because I heard so many good things about how much easier they are to customize, but I still can't get the look I really, really want with either of them. I spent many, many, many, many hours searching through Wordpress forums and FAQs and websites that offered free headers and templates before I finally discovered that I had to go to (not dot com) to be able to customize the blog to fit my needs and wants precisely, and that would cost money. As you can see, I'm back here at Blogger. I realized that it doesn't really matter what my blog looks like as much as what it says. Even after all the hours and hours I put into a new look, I still had not posted anything new. And that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a blog in the first place. So, back to the basics for me.

Thirdly, today we got snow. LOTS and LOTS of snow. So much snow that when J went outside she sunk in it up to her waist. And that was before it had finished snowing. I think our final total is around 27 inches. I had all day stuck inside today. And I did nothing. Well, I played a lot of Tetris. But that's about it. I had so much I could have worked on, so much that needs attention, but instead I sat on my butt on the computer for most of the day. Part of the problem is I skipped taking all my meds this morning. One of the most important things I take is a medication that helps with my Narcolepsy. You can always tell when I haven't taken it; I crave sleep more than you'd think is possible. All I want to do is go back to bed. And it doesn't really matter how much I sleep. I wake up and will do anything I can to get five more minutes. I'm sure many of you are reading (all right, I know the "many of you" part is optimistic, but I think I still have at least a few readers out there) this thinking that this sounds like you. And maybe it does. But I know one of the defining aspects of my Narcolepsy is the fact that if you give me those "five more minutes" I will be back asleep in under ten seconds. And when I wake (be it five minutes or two more hours) I will still do anything to be able to go back to sleep.

I was describing to a friend recently the difference in being tired after teaching all morning with the meds and without. As I drive home now I can acknowledge how tired I am and still think about how much I'm craving my can of Coke (I allow myself one a day) at home and how I need to throw in that load of laundry before I work out so it'll be finished at the same time as I am. Before I had the meds, or if I skip a day, I would sometimes have to close my eyes at the red lights and tell my daughter to let me know when it turns green. I know, I'm not proud of that, but I never fell asleep while driving - I always waited til the red lights.

In any case, I'm heading upstairs to bed now. Tomorrow is a new day and I will not waste it.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Where's My Sticker Chart?

Last night as I shed my clothes and crawled into bed, feeling the warmth of the down comforter and my sleeping husband soon envelope me, I gave a huge sigh of relief to finally be in bed and at the same time began cursing myself for once again staying up way too late. It doesn't matter what I tell myself; I do this every night. It's a really vicious cycle and I'm (excuse the pun) tired of it.

After the kids are in bed and dinner is cleaned up, I finally get the chance to sit on the couch, turn on the TV, play some more Tetris on Facebook, and just relax. And that's fine. There is nothing wrong with relaxing. The problem comes when it becomes time to stop simply "relaxing" and actually go upstairs to bed.

I just don't do it.

Hmmm....I wonder what else is on TV.

I am just soooo comfortable right here on the couch.

I just have to beat her score in Tetris. Just one more game.

And before I know it, it is midnight. Or later. And we all have school in the morning.

I fall asleep quickly (hey, narcolepsy does have some benefits!) but way too soon I hear the kids talking in the hallway or in their rooms. The official rule is they have to stay in their beds until the clock radio turns on, our solution to the three of them waking up WAY too early every day, but they have been really testing the limits of that rule, and the sound of them playing before any alarm goes off in the morning has been getting louder and earlier every day. Because I was up so late I don't want to get out of bed. I'm legitamitely tired, and sleep deprivation definitely does not help, so I try to put the covers over my ears and go back to sleep. I usually can do this immediately (again, narcolepsy, not all bad) but only for bursts of five to ten minutes when my personal snooze alarms walk in and out of my room: "I'm dressed!" "Can I watch TV before breakfast?" "He hit me!" "I can't find my shoes!" I wake enough to address each issue (Good. No. Tell him NOT to hit you. Where did you leave them?) and then go back to sleep before needing to handle the next emergency.

When I wake up again, it's late, which means the kids are late, which means I'll be late, which means I have to run around like a crazy person to get everyone out the door, drive all three to school, and then get myself to my school where I now have to run around in half the time I need to prep my classroom before all the kids come rushing in, eager to have my complete and total attention.

I don't like this at all. It's not fair to my kids, it's not fair to my body, and it's definitely not fair to my sanity.

Thinking like a teacher, I believe I need some kind of behavioral modification. Maybe some kind of positive reinforcement system, like every night I'm in bed by ____ I can ____. Just don't know what that should be yet.

And of course, after teaching until 1, picking up J at my parents' and helping her with her Kindergarten homework before guiding J and my niece into some kind of cooperative play, I'm just too tired to think about it anymore.