Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gadget Free Family Fun - Play Doh Night!

What do you get when you mix game night and art night? That would be the creation above. It started off as the 'guess my play doh creation.' I drew the blue tub, and didn't want to mix colors, so in thinking 'what's blue? what's reeallly blue?' Cookie Monster is who I came up with. A theme emerged. This was really fun! E willingly participated and P wants to know when we are doing it again!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March with Miss P

P has been busy in all her 'first-grade-ness.' I am loving the confidence she has at this age (with peers) and her developing work ethic. Above we are at 'Mornings with Mom,' our school breakfast event. It happened on St. Patty's day, so she insisted on head to toe green. Look at me with my pigtails! Don't I look 26? : )
This is P's entry in our city's fire safety poster contest. One of the other three winners from our school was Pulling Curls' son. She probably won't mention it as her kids are always receiving honors of some kind - ha ha.
And finally here she is at tonight's International Night with her best bud. As we are sadly lacking in culture, all we could pull off was the St. Patrick's Day shirt again as a nod to our Irish culture (or lack thereof). Would it be appropriate to bring Guinness to the display table next year? Didn't think so.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Meal Time Monday - Mediterranean in the mix!

I have started my first ever diet! All this watching 'Biggest Loser' has finally gotten to me! This all came about initially around New Year's, when, like the other gazillion people in the world, I made a loose plan about getting in shape. Specifically, I decided I wanted to address my least favorite body part - my stomach. Enter The Flat Belly Diet. (Hate the word 'belly' by the way.) It is similar to a Mediterranean style of eating, allowing pasta and emphasizing monounsaturated fats (avocado, olive oil) which are supposed to do all kinds of good things, including reducing bloat. I have completed Day 1, and feel like such a success! I really like the food choices.

I am combining the diet with this walking workout. I made myself leave work this afternoon and had a nice de-stressing date with my tennis shoes and ipod out in the sun.

In the not so good news arena....our mortgage was just jacked up due to rising property taxes. I had no idea that could happen. Too bad some of those property taxes couldn't go to improving our school. See ya later, summer plans. Off to wallow in Bethenny Ever After.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gadget Free, yes. Family Fun, hmmm?

Miss P and I had quite the interesting night last night. E was home rooting on his alma mater in the basketball tourney, and I was finishing up some work (as I'll have a full house in room 2 today), with P by my side. I decided I wanted to go to our school board meeting, as there are a bunch of big issues right now, and teachers on staff were speaking. The plan - rush P home and then rush back to meeting. Well P talked me in to taking her to eat at Carl's Jr. instead, and then taking her to the board meeting. We would just stay an hour to show support. P had stuff to read. Hmm..well, oK, could be an interesting experience.

Ugh. We went to Carl's Jr by school. I am known for getting fountain diet cokes there when I need a lift, which is often. I am usually there at lunch. The dinner crowd is Halloween scary. You know the signs that say 'No loitering,' in the fast food places? Or the ones that state that state there is a 30-minute time limit? These signs were made for the characters that were there. Paige was hiding. Now this is an OK looking Carl's Jr. in a decent area near our school. This is not a graffiti covered corner. At one point, the restroom door opened and a homeless woman came out dragging all of her stuff and left out the side door. I think she snuck in to freshen up? Then, as we were leaving, another bedraggled woman stopped to ask if I was a social worker and if I could help her get to LA.
???? This is what happens when you don't make good choices, P!

On to the board meeting. I was very bored, as the beginning was a lot of long-winded discussion about redevelopment agencies. P, on the other hand, was fine, showing off for her future possible teachers by reading her chapter books contentedly. We were seated in between two other kinder teachers (go, team!), one of which was P's teacher last year, and who spoke. After reading, P, her former teacher, and I played hangman, and then she and I drew cartoons. Low tech fun! After two hours, the 'public' finally got to speak, and as we aren't allowed to clap, we did goofy elementary school 'silent cheers,' to root our own. We have some rock star teachers. P almost did not want to leave the meeting. ????

We got home late, and I am hoping that P can hold it together for a friend's big sleepover birthday party tonight. What a stellar parenting night for me -- Carl's Jr with the freaks, and the a past bedtime board meeting , I really am top mom, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Turn that frown....

As I sat last Friday evening, feeling grumpy, my spirit sapped by things, that are 'wrong,' I thought again about Gretchen Rubin and her advice to turn to what is right.

There are so many reasons for happy - from my fast metabolism (that allowed me to polish off pasta and girl scout cookies for dinner - yikes) to my latest engaging read, to my early morning coffee.

Where I
really find happy from though, is the people in my life.

Not just E (still handsome and charming as ever), or P (healthy and easygoing), but...

*My sweet hardworking student teacher, whose camaraderie I really enjoy every day.

*The sweet, sweet boys and girls who listen and work hard every day in my classroom. I'm telling you, I have some rock
-stars. Picture angelic faces staring at you, legs criss-crossed, and hands in lap every single day all day. (Ok, that sounded wrong. They get up to move around, work and play frequently. This is just how I'm picturing them right now on the carpet.) At their tables they are dutifully trying their hardest. There are many children I have not had to re-direct once in our six hour day for six months. A couple of these students started the year really behind the peer group, but they keep on, keepin' on. (Now mind you, this is definitely not every child in my class for sho, but this post is about the happy).

*The awesome parents who volunteer in my class, including the kick-butt mom who stays
all day on Friday doing whatever I need, and the parent who doesn't even a have student in my class but just wants to devote time to struggling English learners.

*My mom who just hosted us for a relaxing weekend of eating, drinking, reading and movie-watching.

* The fab colleague who is helping me through the applying for a grant process.

*The girlfriends I feel really myself with and who drive me to laughter regularly.

What a schmaltzy post! All true, though. What do you think about, when work, or money, or some ongoing problem is bringing you down?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yoga class

With this kind of training available, I have no reason not to be in shape!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Seven years ago on St. Patrick's Day, E and I found out that we were soon to have a little girl baby! What does one do when finding out that news? Well, after stopping by a local church to say a little thank you prayer for a healthy baby, we went to Gymboree and bought our first baby outfit! The outfit was a little violet sundress, size 6 - 12 months, that she wore the following year on Easter.

Recently, we got Miss P's Easter 2011 outfit. We decided on the sporty ensemble here, also from Gymboree. Seven years later and we still love to shop! So amazing to watch our little girl grow! (Literally, and figuratively). : )

Monday, March 14, 2011

Family Meal Monday - Time for Dinner

In 2010 my resolution was to become a better cook. I succeeded....a little. Even though this year I officially have different goals, I have continued on the cooking, and it is finally kicking in. I've developed quite an obsession with cookbooks along the way. This one is interesting for a couple of reasons: 1) It's written by former editors of Cookie magazine, and 2) it has some really unusual recipes, like baked egg in a tomato cup (which I had never heard of). And 3) It has a hilarious blog, and another book coming. If you love cookbooks too, check it out!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Raindrops on roses

I just finished reading Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project and I loved it! Check out her blog here. There are a lot of her ideas I'd like to little idea is to find a Place of Refuge

To sum up, basically Gretchen says most of us have a 'negativity bias,' we spend more time dwelling on problems or unhappy feelings than good ones. To offset this, we need to develop our own little storehouse in our mind of happy memories or favorite images. Think Maria in Sound of Music - 'when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad...'

Even though I'm a cheery person, I completely have that negativity bias, and I haven't created that mental place of refuge. I'm working on it now.

This weekend was not the greatest. I've been fighting something and napped like it was my job (with bad dreams to boot) and dealt with the lovely time change. Now of course, I can't sleep. Here are images I'm working on conjuring up..

*The latest here
*Sitting at the beach with friends
*A trip with E in which we sat outside in the sun and read our books in nature for about three hours
*Two recent conversations with a co-worker in which I died laughing, one I actually stood up in my chair and pushed her in 'shut up!' style.
*Sitting by the pool my first summer after teaching, pre-child, feeling not a care in the world
*A fun, spontaneous trip to Monterey two years ago with E and Miss P

How about you? Do you have a place of refuge? What do you switch to thinking about??

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

(Almost) Gadget-Free Family Fun

Monday is game night at our house. This past week I pulled out a game I had purchased a few years ago for high-level kindergartners. It didn't quite work out in a classroom setting, so I had stashed and forgot about it. Recently, I rediscovered it in my cabinet and brought it on home - it is perfect to play with a first grader!

This post is titled 'almost' gadget free, as you can see there is a kind of gadget! Three letter word cards are spread out, each with just one letter already filled in. Players take turns sliding forward the gizmo to reveal two letters. Players scan the word cards and see if they can make a word using the two tiles provided and any of the letters on a word card. It was a little harder than you think (you never know how many vowels or consonants you'll get).

I recommend for a word-loving families!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Family Meal Monday - The 'Occasional Pasta'

I have a new addiction to cookbooks. Something about the beautifully photographed food, and all the new recipes that promise to make me a fabulous and healthy cook get my juices flowing (ha ha). I especially love cookbooks that have a lot of narrative about the author's philosophy and tips - lifestyle stuff - in addition to just recipes. The book above, The Family Chef , is one such cookbook!

Here is a recipe I just made that was delish. The authors call it 'The occasional Pasta.' Yes, I eat pasta 'on occasion' Like, twice a week!

8 oz spaghetti or spaghtettini
2 tablespoons EVOO (think Rachel Ray)
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced
1 pound medium-sized raw shrimp, peeled and devined
8 Roma tomatoes
salt and pepper
handful of baby arugula
1/4 cup toasted and chopped almonds
1/4 Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and saute garlic for one minute, being careful not to burn it. Add shrimp and saute for another minute or two. Add tomatoes and continue cooking until tomatoes are warm and shrimp has cooked through. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

3. By this time the pasta should be cooked. Drain pasta and mix together with warm shrimp and tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the fresh arugula and nuts. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

One for the scrapbooks....

The setting, Friday afternoon. Report cards are handed out and I'm ready to relax and maybe celebrate a little. E is planning happy hour with his work friends. Miss P and one of her girlies have cooked up a play-date. I offer to host, as Fridays is the one day I can do this. I figure, as usual, P and her pal will play happily/independently for a couple of hours and I can get some blog reading/book reading/dvr-watching done. (All while supervising them, of course.)

The afternoon began promisingly enough, with the girls reading and helping me in the classroom for a short while. Here's how it went down from there.

3:30 - driving home - girls find McDonald's toy (small barbie) in the back seat and start pelting each other with it. Extra loud laughter (and growls?) ensue. I have a son?

3:45 - Get girls snack (string cheese and granola bar); they want to play outside. Great! I settle in at the computer, which is conveniently next to the sliding glass door leading outside. I get myself a snack of girl scout cookies - yum! Instead of fun stuff, decide to do my application for the summer reading institute (work).

4:10 - Girls claim to be hungry again, run back inside and head upstairs before I can intervene. &^%! I left the girl scout cookies out. Let girls have a couple. Girls get out play-dough and I hear them play happily.

4:30 - Go upstairs to check on girls, when things get quieter. Yikes - play-dough mess! Just heard them in Miss P's room, but it is now empty. Look outside...What the...? Girls playing out front in dress up dresses.

4:30 - Haul girls in to clean up play-doh, which they do. Girls ask to go to McDonald's. ???? Despite evidence in the car, this is not our usual play-date activity. What is P thinking?

5:00 - I am back at my post in the office by the front door, with clear view of outside. Girls suddenly whiz by and out the door in bathrobes, with nothing underneath but underwear. Patooties were hauled back in. Clothes put back on.

5:00 - 6:00 - I will spare you this activity.

6:00 - Friends' mom arrives for pick-up with other two daughters in tow. It is the typical long process of getting things, chatting, and saying goodbye. All four girls now begin and play intense tag game for several minutes outside as we moms chat. P finally collapses on the grass, and announces, "I just ran my a$$e$ off!" WTF? I'm sure I heard her wrong, but when I ask she happily repeats it. I tell other mom I am shocked. She is not.

6:30 - Everyone finally gone. I explain to Miss P that the word she used was a grown-up word and 'kind of a bad word.' P shares she heard the phrase before but had no idea what the actual word meant. P goes upstairs to surmise her room, and I make quick phone call to E. We determine that P probably heard the phrase during our family viewings of 'The Biggest Loser.'

6:45 - P upstairs crying that she said a bad word and her room is trashed. The party is over.

6:50 - P and I self-soothe on the couch watching House Hunters. "Do you like the subway tiles too, mama?"

BRIGHT NOTE: Read P's report card - all E's for excellent under various life skills One S for satisfactory under being 'self-directed.' Hmm...

Parenting reflection: Apparently, getting too soft and used to P usually using common sense when friends are over. Must state rules at the start! Rule 1) Keep on clothes?

Final question: Is there a place in the scrapbooks to record first use of profanity??

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gadget Free Fun - 'Get un-bored'

Invention born of necessity?
Last week I was combing out miss p's tangly wet hair to the tune of her yowling when inspiration struck. I grabbed the detangler spray which was sitting on the counter and said, 'Ok, find a word you know and see if you can get me to guess it.' And so began a new favorite game. P loves to select words and feed me clues.

"ummm, it's..... four letters and it starts with e." Naturally, she loves it if I am a little stumped initially, but seems to be most satisfied if I am ultimately victorious.

While it is a great distraction while combing out long hair (or pulling off a band-aid, getting a shot, etc.), we also play it in the car or while waiting in line sometimes. Like P says, "this is a good game to get me un-bored!"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Favorite Show!

After a workday that kicked my behind and didn't end until 10 p.m., I decided to watch my dvr'd episode of Bethenny Ever After, which premiered last night. I am so glad I stayed up for it! This show - with the necessary new title - was an hour of hilarity with moments of sweetness. The down-to-Earth 'guy's guy' Jason, makes it extra interesting for E to tune in as well. (Although, he almost had a heart attack during a scene in which Bethenny is fitted for a bra and models various numbers - damn her flat stomach! : )

Hilary - I think this is available on Hulu!

I had been toying with buying the season 1 DVD...this settles it. I am getting it to have on hand at school for my next marathon work session!