Monday, January 31, 2011

Family Meal Monday - Mini Nacho Cups

February is such a theme-y month! This week we have Groundhog's Day (what you don't celebrate that?), Lunar New Year, the Superbowl, and Valentine's Day right around the corner.

Well, in honor of the bowl, here are some cute little nachos. This recipe is from Parents Magazine, and is one your child could easily help with.

Mini Nacho Cups


18 Tostitos scoops tortilla chips
1/2 of 15 oz can of black beans
1/3 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350

*Put scoop chips in a baking dish
*Combine beans and salsa in saucepan on stove, heat on medium
*Spoon bean mixture into each scoop
*Add cheese
*Put in oven for about 5 minutes.
*Add a little sour cream if desired.

Add finally, a joke for your little one(s): 'What do you call cheese that isn't yours?' '
Nacho cheese!'

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Breakfast Party!

Yesterday morning the three of us woke up early (good work Miss P in getting daddy up!) and had a little breakfast party! Armed with a Starbucks card (gift from one of E's students), I got us some goodies, found the new entertainment weekly and US mags in the mailbox, and we cozied up to watch the finale of Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker on dvr. Great way to start the day!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A day in the life...

Everyone who attended our kindergarten winter concert yesterday, was charmed by the cute kids in their matching shirts and decorated headbands. The kids sang sweetly. The teachers were all smiles. Here was my day behind the scenes.

20 minutes before concert:

student one arrives, quietly non-compliant, and crying, as working mom cannot stay for show. I hold him. (by the way he wasn't the first in the door, just the first in my little 'story.' I have 27 students.)

student two arrives, has been absent all week. student two is very young developmentally and is often confused by what is happening around him. Dad does not walk him into classroom to orient him after being gone. I catch him up.

student three arrives via before school care. I am told that he (extremely difficult student) has been out of control physically
all morning and that before school care is taking him right to the principal, bypassing the classroom. 5 minutes later he is back. Principal not in office. I hand student three to my student teacher and take back student one, and sit him on my lap to start the day.

5 minutes before concert.

I resend student three and student teacher to office, with student three's favorite books for time being.

student two steps on stage. Say's 'NO!' and throws off headband. I decide he can sit to side of stage until he is ready. Halfway through the show he is.

During concert.
I see student three's dad in audience, I had asked him to come yesterday to help his son. I feel bad he wasn't able to perform.

After concert.
After much coordination, student three is sent home.

Students four and five, become hysterical, that their parents have left. I lead class with them on either side of me, rubbing their backs. We talk about our feelings about parents, the fun things we will do at school today, and ultimately both girls choose to make notes for their parents, sitting on the carpet on either side of me, sobbing the whole time.

Student one is non-compliant and won't move from under an easel. Principal stops by and takes student one for a walk, and calls his mom. Asks if mom can come to tomorrow's show.

Student two asks to go to the bathroom (right outside the room), and then stays in there to play. I send students to ask him to come back. (Student teacher is out of room meeting with supervisor).

After lunch.

All students have calmed down. Students four and five are happy and back to normal.

Student two, however, again asks to go to bathroom (in print in becomes so clear I should have had a better handle on his 'pattern' but there was so much going on that I'm not even including), he then wanders over to the office to visit. Principal returns him.

After school.
Talk with parent of student two for a long time about how we can support him.

whew! We'll see what today brings! Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gadget Free Games and Play - Crazy Run

A simple game to play with one or multiple young kids - The Crazy Run. Get yourself a comfortable spot in the yard or park, and relax, while you call out these directions:

"Slow run."
"Now, Crazy run!"
"Walk again."

You can modify it to the age of your kids and what will make them laugh. Like, 'Clown run!' or 'Dinosaur run!' or 'Monster run!' and have some interesting conversations about what that kind of run will look like. Join in the fun too, and do your own 'weird run,' and then 'regular run.'

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Schooly Shcoolerson

Tomorrow is the 100th day of school for Miss P and I. Here she is preparing her project. If you have a kindergartner or first grader, I'm sure this is in your future too. Easiest way to do it, have them count out items in 10 groups of 10. Then, together you can (re)count all the items from 1 -100. At our school, the kinders just bring in their collections in see through ziplocks. First graders 'amp' it up by hiding their collection in paper bags. On the outside of the bag are clues of the contents. Clever idea, I think!

Personally, yesterday was a doozy for me at school. I am getting all 'eye of the tiger' for today. Tonight a mom friend and I are seeing a showing of Race to Nowhere. So the theme for today is school! What have you learned lately?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Family Meal Monday - Tortilla Soup

I found this delicious, filling, soup recipe awhile back on Three Peanuts
I wanted to share it too, as it is a favorite in our family now! Easy to make and perfect for winter. Enjoy!

Tortilla Soup
(from the cookbook Stop and Smell the Rosemary)

6 tbs vegetable oil

8 corn tortillas, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 medium onion, chopped

1 28oz can diced tomatoes

2 tbs ground cumin

1 tbs chili powder

3 bay leaves

6 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt

4 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cubed

Optional garnishes:

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese

cubed avocado

Sour Cream

Tortilla chips

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add tortilla, garlic, cilantro and onion. Saute 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add cumin, chili powder, bay leaves and chicken stock. Return to a boil. Reduce heat. Add salt and cayenne. Simmer 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the chicken. Reheat for a few minutes. Spoon into bowls and garnish with cheese, avocado, sour cream and/or tortilla chips. Yum!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I am....

Loving the gorgeous 70 degree weather we are enjoying...

Loving the date I had with myself this morning, working out, getting Starbucks and browsing through Borders

Loving Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project. Check it out here!

Loving that E and I had a 'like the good 'ol days' 90-minute conversation about everything under the sun last night

Love that I met my work-out goal this week!

Love that we have a date night tonight

Love that Miss P is happily engaged with a play-date right now, and I, shockingly, have nothing I have to do.

Love that I have new books and magazines piled up on my book stand!

Love that E has been all over chores lately, and is now getting my car washed

What are you loving today?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gadget Free Games and Play - How to Tell a Story to Your Child

I regularly tell Miss P made-up stories about a little girl named Callie. Knowing how to tell a story is a great gift for a parent to have. You can weave in lessons you want to teach, and share some bonding time without any equipment at all. Sometimes, I admit, I just don't feel like telling a story. But it is a formula, and not hard once you figure it out. Here are the basic steps

Start with a character your child can relate to.
Callie is a seven year old little girl, who lives with her parents and her cat Boots in a fictional town in our general area.

Begin with an exciting event

"Look, Callie! Something came for you in the mail," called Callie's mom.
(Callie goes on to find out that she has received a letter from her pen pal in Georgia.)

Include an appealing sidekick - could be a pet or a talking truck.

Callie happily curled up on the couch to read the letter. Boots jumped up and snuggled beside her, as if he was listening to the letter. Maybe he was?

Describe a problem, that your child can relate to. I often pick something that is coming up in P's life, that she might experience, or something that's been in the news - like below.

Callie feels a little disappointed that Emily's letter has pictures and stories of sledding and snowmen. School was even closed for awhile! It doesn't snow here, in California. Everyday is almost the same - bor-ing.

Share how the child reaches a solution to his/her problem

Callie's mom has her pack up a towel and flip flops and the family goes on a mystery outing. Can you guess where? The beach!

Happy Ending!

"We may not have snow, but we have the sun and the ocean." Callie has a new appreciation for her home.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Have you heard??

Why Chinese Mothers are Superior


In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Western Mom


Family Meal Monday - Garlic Tomato Basil Pie

This recipe comes courtesy of our school's community cookbook. Kid friendly and great easy dish to have at a shower or luncheon. Serve with salad and some fruit.

Garlic Tomato Basil Pie

9 inch deep dish pie crust (from freezer section)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
5 Roma tomatoes
1 cup packed basil leaves
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese in the crust. Cut tomatoes into wedges and place on top of cheese. Meanwhile, combine the basil and garlic in a food processor (I don't have one, so I simply hand-shredded) and process until smooth. Spread mixture, or just layer again (if you shredded) on top of tomatoes. Combine the rest of the mozzarella, mayo, and Parmesan. Layer this on the very top. It might look strange (at least it did to me), but it baked nicely. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nature girl

Oh, I love a 3-day weekend. Two days is just too fast. Although, I guess I'd eventually get used to three days and say that what we really needed was four!

Saturday was GOUR-GEOUS. I swear it was 70 degrees. We wore shorts and went hiking to celebrate. For some reason, Miss P, my mostly 'indoor girl,' has decided she is a 'nature' girl. She and her best friend at school tell me they have a 'clean' and 'green' club and are always picking up trash. Earlier on this day, Miss P went outside with the camera and took several pictures, (like the one above), and mounted them saying they 'inspire' her. Anyway, back to the hike. After about 30 minutes, P decided she was done. When we told her the plan was to keep going, she decided to test us with a fit on the trail. She entertained passerby with random screaming, stomping, and begging to stop. Does this girl forget I'm a kindergarten teacher and have nerves of steel? We had been talking fairies, and tried to distract her with other fun conversations, stories and games, interspersed with letting her know we weren't giving in. Eventually, she hooked on to a letters game and was fine. We ended up hiking two hours, stopping to skip stones in the reservoir. Now she can call herself a nature girl!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gadget Free Games and Play

It's really hard not to find yourself bursting into laughter when you do this yoga pose with your child. Remember to roar!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Family Meal Monday

Super easy dinner suggestion today for anyone who frequents Whole Foods....

Make Your Own Pizza!

Head to Whole Foods and get the organic whole wheat pizza crust. It is in the bread aisle, and it comes two to a pack. The 365 Whole Foods brand. Spread on some olive oil, then layer pizza sauce and mozzarella. Add your favorite toppings -- I like sundried tomatoes. Bake for about 11 minutes on 400 degrees and presto. One yummy and healthy-ish lunch or dinner!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Eye of the Tiger!

Last Fall I joked a lot at home to my family (and on Facebook) that I faced each school week thinking, "Eye of the Tiger!" The combination of some major classroom challenges and running around with Paige trying to get everything else done was something I had to psych myself up for. Things are more under control now. But I had to laugh when in December, my student teacher at the time gave me this card. She started off with, "Not sure why this card says you to me, but..."

One Fabulous Mom did a post about New Years' Goals and a commenter mentioned Tony Robbins' style of choosing goals. Find it here. I checked it out, and love it! I may be tweaking some of my goals. One goal I have is to get E to do this process as well. Now that will be a challenge....

Friday, January 7, 2011

Daybreak with Dad

Our school does a mornings with dad used to be 'Doughnuts with Dad,' but the health police stepped in, so now we have the clever 'Daybreak' with Dad title. E teaches an early class that day, but arranged for a friend to take over his teaching so he could be there. What a guy! I only barged in to take photos of them, and my students and their parents (some brought moms as their dads weren't available - good idea). One of the dads was quite pleased to see me, he informed me at 8:05 (school starts at 8:30, earliest drop off 8:20), that he needed to get to work and would like to leave his son with me...I 'convinced' him to stay.

In other 'news,' I am itching for a new fiction book. I am looking for something fairly light. Happy ending is a must! Any ideas?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gadget Free Games and Play

During my Christmas Shopping research, I learned about this fabulous game. Travel size and easily explained, this game was a hit at our family New Years' Party. The objective is to find the one matching symbol between two cards and to be the first to 'spot it.' There are four different fast-paced ways to play. It became quite competitive (amongst the adults - or maybe that was just me?) This would be awesome to keep in your purse, so you could play a quick round while waiting for a sibling at ballet class, or keeping the kids busy at a restaurant. I found it at my favorite toy store, Learning Express. You can also check it out here.

In case you are wondering, no, I am not being compensated by Spot it or Learning Express. Just a fan!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Meal-Time Monday - Makin' Lunch

I know a lot of people find making lunch for their kids a big drag. My husband is one of these people. I love this post by Dinner, A Love Story about this very topic.

I've taken on lunch duty. And I'm making it fun. My strategy is to turn our kitchen into a restaurant called 'Light Bites.' I busy Miss P looking through kids' cook books or acting as my sous chef (spreading peanut butter), while I tie on my apron. Sometimes, I'm making food for a fashion show, featuring pets and their owners. Other times it is for some mystery, very important, fabulous guests on their way to the restaurant. At the end, somehow, it ends up in Miss P's lunchbox in the fridge. We've had some play time and lunch is made! I tend toward the dramatic, so this is my bag. Find what makes it fun for you. Maybe it is making artistic looking sandwiches, like in Funky Lunch. Maybe it is racing to see how quickly you can get it done. Whatever it is - include your child(ren) and have fun!

New Year, New Features

Hello all! My decorations are 95% put away and I'm ready to really start 2011. I think 2010 was one of the best years I've had, mainly because I really lived by the title of this blog. I'm motivated to make this year just as great.

I love the fresh beginning of a new year. So, I'm taking this opportunity to introduce two new features for the blog!

Family Meal Monday


Gadget-Free Games (to run on Thursdays)

When I first started the blog a few years ago, the emphasis was on positive thinking and being a mom. It slowly morphed into more of a general mom blog, and then into some creative idea sharing. Doing some thinking, I realized probably my biggest 'mom' talent is coming up with simple and creative ways to have fun with kids, whether my own, friends' kids, nieces/nephews, or my students. (Oh yes, I've taught elementary school for 10 years.)

So Family Meals Monday will run weekly, and share a family-friendly recipe or mealtime tip. (Oh, another talent of mine is my avid consumption of books and articles. I will give you the down-low, so you don't have to! Of course I will credit all sources!)

I don't have an iphone and our lifestyle is such that I have Miss P with me almost all the time when I'm not teaching. That means while running errands, riding in the car, etc. I'm also frequently stuck with my 26 5 year-olds in an empty room waiting for them to get their hearing checked one at a time. Trust me, I'm ready to give you Gadget Free Games and Play ideas.

Looking forward to your feedback. Have a good one!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 in Pictures

Look at those eyelashes!


Always fun at the Johnson house...


Awhanee Yosemite trip for mom's 60th


Amazing concert!


10 year anniversary at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay!


Bye Bye school year, Hello blow-out Disney Trip at Grand Californian!


Celebrations at our local Rose Garden parade, and then the Pleasanton Fair at the Rule Brunch and Derby party.

3rd Annual Camping Trip at New Brighton Beach


Night Out / Reunion with college besties and bridesmaids


Pop-Pop's birthday with cousins


Annual Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Patch Trip

San Jose Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot!
Our Family
Christmas Eve at Antonella's

We are blessed! Here's to another fantastic year!