Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Last bit of February

My little animal lover made a valentine for her pet fish. Please note that the words are facing inward, so that Fish Gracie can 'read' it. : )

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What are you giving up - Part Two

Get comfy. I've had a lot of short posts lately. Not this one!

Thank you to everyone who responded to my last question - what do you give up? (What do you wish you could do, that you aren't making time for).This has been weighing on me lately. Whenever I have a break from school (we are just coming off of ski week), I always take stock and ruminate a bit. I have so many interests, and a desire to lead a full life. Specifically, for the last year (?) I've ruminated between two main pastimes. First, the desire to work out (which I do sporadically) and take my running to the next level, entering some races while getting healthy and fit for my upcoming birthday. The year before Miss P was born I ran a marathon, and since then I've done a half marathon and a variety of short, fun races. I also did cross-country in high school. I've never been a GREAT runner by any means, but I think I have some affinity for it. I am in OK but not good shape.

The other interest beckoning, is decorating/styling my house. I see so many darling houses (don't we all), and covet the beautiful interiors and exteriors. In my dream, I'd be able to spend extra minutes scouring online, visiting vintage shops, garage sales, Homegoods, and teaching myself how to refinish, paint, etc. (Although, I tend to have little patience!) and build a beautiful home. I am also getting the itch to fix things up, and possibly prep and sell our house, moving one step closer to our dream house.

Problem is, here's my schedule. Miss P and I are out the door every weekday morning at 7:30ish on our way to school. On average we get home at 5:30 p.m. (I'm very lucky re: PaigeCare. On Monday she comes to my classroom after school and does her homework with a friend, Tues/Thurs Ed picks her up right after school, Wednesday she takes a class or has a playdate, and Fri we usually scoot out early and I often host the playdate.) My job teaching Kindergarten is such that I have to really put in my all while I'm there, barely breaking for lunch. During crazy times, I have to bring things home as well, although, on the flip side there are the school breaks.

As you can imagine, dinner, family time, and house chores take up a lot of the evening. I still find myself wondering, where is my special 'outlet?' I love blogging and often do it first thing in the morning, and I go to sleep each night reading a good book. I still would like to pick another special 'project' separate from work to focus on. To delve into both running and home design feels like too much - I fear I'd be doing my hobbies and not spending much time parenting, which is in my heart my number one priority. This leads me to think, that I should just focus any spare time on just building my relationships!

Let me know if you've had any luck figuring this out!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What do you give up?

OK friends, I have a question ... Judging from my blog reading lately, you're all as busy as I am. Here's what I'm wondering: what are you letting go by the wayside?

It's the beginning of Lent, but what I'm wondering is what do you wish you had time for, that just isn't happening. Is it exercise, home-cooked meals, pursuing a career, time with friends, reading, working on your house?

I'll be forever grateful to all who comment! :)

move over 'bringing up bebe'

It's been awhile since I've read a parenting book, but this one might need to find a place on my bookshelf! There is an excerpt in the latest (March) issue of Parents magazine, for your perusal. Good 'ol common sense, and totally my philosophy. Take it from me, an excellent parent myself. : )

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Busy 'normaling'

Two days into vacation and LOVING IT. Have been taking walks, watching House Hunters and Pioneer Woman (I have a rustic side!), visiting with friends, enjoying the sunshine, sneaking minutes to read, puttering in the kitchen and RELAXING. Thank you, universe!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

once again, keeping it real

It's been quite a week! No recipes to share. The house is a mess. I now have a full 30 students in my class. I'm a bit overwhelmed at work, and am asleep most nights by 8:30 (except for Monday night when I worked on Valentine-palooza). The subsequent 'food fest' I think is partly to blame for my inertia this week.

I'd be sacked out now, except that Ed and Miss P decided to do a final homework review right before bedtime. You can see where this is going. Short temper and frustration. And Paige was no better. : ) If she were 15 years older, I'd say she was intoxicated. Laughing, crying, and doing her rockstar imitation. Bizarre! I definitely had shake off my zzz's and step in. I'm still laughing inside in horror at some of the antics. My theory is she spends a lot of time holding it together, being the good, dutiful student and daughter. Time to rebel and meltdown! I did get her to share some legitimate frustrations, which was positive.

The two of us definitely need a short vacation to recharge. Good thing one is coming up next week! Hoping we can reset...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

On reading

If you've been here awhile, you know I'm a huge reader. One of my favorite places to be is puttering in a bookstore - just today I was at the library refreshing Miss P's collection. Anyway, it's mama's turn now. I am still finishing a book, with one 'in the wings' of course, but on Valentine's Day, I'm thinking of treating myself to a couple of these beauties. Actually most aren't quite out yet

This one comes out on Feb 14th. I loved The Undomestic Goddess and Remember Me, can't wait for this one.

Kind of a sequel to 'run like a mother,' this one comes out in March. I'm sure I'll be looking for fresh inspiration.

Nie Nie's book comes out in April, I believe. I love memoirs and I'm sure hers will be beautifully written.

Now, for the Mo Willems!

Elephant and Piggie is already out! My class is going to be bonkers when they get their paws on it.

There you have it. Some post the shoes or handbags they are jonesing for, I post my books. Happy Reading!

Friday, February 10, 2012

my daily grind

Paige in front of "our" school

Tonight I'm linking up at Kelly's Korner on a topic close to my heart - Working Moms.

I've always been a bit carefree and spontaneous. I was recently reading posts from another linky party about SAHM's. I noted that almost all of them had planned (like my best friend) for years to stay home, and took the necessary financial steps pre-baby. I was impressed!

Similarly, I guess, in my 20's I had an itchy feeling that I wouldn't be able (financially) to give up working (not sure how I predicted I'd become AND marry a teacher!) I was mildly concerned before I was even engaged about how I'd balance working and my desire to to be totally present for future kids.

Fast forward a bit to the year 2000 in which I married and quit my job to pursue a teaching career. I knew teaching wasn't an easy way out, and truly felt (feel) like it was my calling. A second big plus, however, was knowing how well it would potentially fit in with family life.

And it does, for the most part. I'm now on my 11th year of teaching kindergarten, and if you live in CA and watch the news, you've seen education have its ups and downs. The job has definitely gotten harder.

My second grader, Miss P, and I are out the door around 7:30ish (see post below, under 'what makes mommy mad') every morning for the 20 minute drive to her school, aka my work. I keep my kindergartners reigned in, while teaching them to 'think while they read,' write detailed facts, and write their numbers with proper formation. Occasionally I do this while walking on my hands or riding my unicycle. The kiddos leave at 2:10,* and I gear up for part two of my day, which includes planning, prepping, and meetings. Miss P does her homework with her bf in my room on Mondays, gets picked up by dad on T/Th, goes to an after school class on Wed, and plays on the playground 'under my watchful eye,' on Fridays (when I sometimes haul a*& to leave early). Most days we leave close to 5:00 for the drive home and phase 3 of the day. Tues and Thurs I often stay late trying to catch on my neverending list.

Pro's: There are many. I have the best of both worlds, in the sense that I am working, yet know Miss P's teacher, her friends, and their parents all very well. If I want/need to, I can usually catch a glimpse of her during the day. I check in with her after school for the requisite hug/kiss/how was your day. And I feel like I'm not missing much in that respect. Then of course there are the school breaks, summer and the ability to leave at 3:10 (not that I ever take advantage of it.)

Side note: I had a glorious three year stint of working part-time, teaching with a job-share. That was the life, and I wouldn't trade my days at home for anything! Alas, all good things come to an end.

Con's: The challenges of working with 30 five year olds and their parents is exhausting. I often come home and just want to curl up with a good book. I shushed (without realizing it initally) my husband the other day. I envy friends who have time to exercise and run errands during the day, but I remind myself that most people have 'paid their dues' one way or another. : )

*or whenever their parents get around to picking them up!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Out of the mouths of babes

Came across this fun idea on Peas and Thank You. Ask your kid(s) these questions!

1) What is something mommy always says to you?
"We are leaving in five minutes!"

2) What makes mommy happy?
"When we are on time. And doing fun crafts with me."

3) What makes mommy mad?
"When we are late." (Are you sensing a theme??)

4) How does mommy make you laugh?
"Telling me jokes."

5. How old is mommy?

6. How tall is mommy?
"39T" (This was after she had just measured herself in the young children's clothing area at Target, noting that she was quite a bit taller than 5T!)

7. What is mommy's favorite thing to do?
"exercise with the family."
(kid's making me look good.)

8. What does mommy do when you aren't here?
"go out to dinner and to the movies."

9. What is mommy good at?
"teaching and being a mom."

10. What is mommy bad at?
"Knowing where to go. I'm not saying you're bad at directions, you just do better with a map." (she's being generous!)

11. What is mommy's favorite food?
"Chili or Risotto"

12. What makes you proud of mommy?
"That you are a teacher at my school."

13. How are you and mommy the same?"

"We are both good problem solvers."

14. How are you and mommy different?

"We are different ages and have different color hair."

15. How do you know mommy loves you?
"Because we do our 'shake' (intricate hug, handshake and clap routine) at bedtime."

Valentines part deux

Love the wild animal idea? Check out this link to make it even easier. (Alas, we have already done our cutting and glueing of layered animal print paper and such).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Someone (whose name starts with P) going to be busy! Click here for a tutorial on making these 'animal attraction' valentines. (I have a feeling this someone might be a bit busy too!)

House Hunter Bingo

My family is so playing House Hunters Bingo . Although, we need to create a modified card which includes the phrases: really want an open floor plan, no granite counter tops !?, we like to entertain, and finally 'it could work.'

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fear the...

Locals and sports fans......turn your head to the side (sorry) who does this 'Abe Lincoln' look like to you????

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Carb Lover's (that's me) Mac and Cheese

I baked this mac and cheese from my new 'can't miss' cookbook The Carb Lover's Diet. The bread crumbs on top make this dish. I tweaked the recipe, by changing the cheese some and leaving out a few small ingredients (the ones that are italicized). I also don't have the individual oven safe 'ramekins,' (hmmm...valentine's gift? oh, you shouldn't have), so I just put mine all in one 6x9 glass dish. Enjoy!


2 1/2 c low-fat milk (1%)
4 T flour
1/8 t ground or freshly grated nutmeg
3 oz reduced-fat cheddar cheese, grated
2 oz smoked Gouda cheese, grated (I used mozzeralla)
2 oz reduced-fat Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated

1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t pepper
6 c cooked elbow macaroni
1 c unseasoned bread crumbs
2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 t chopped thyme
2 t chopped parsley
1 t olive oil or butter
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper


Preheat oven to 400.
Whisk together milk and flour in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat, add nutmeg, and cook, stirring until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Add cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere, cayenne, and pepper; whisk until melted, 1 minute.

Add macaroni and stir to combine.
Toss bread crumbs, Parmesan, thyme, parsley, oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Place six individual crocks, ramekins, or ovenproof bowls on a rimmed baking sheet. Spoon 1 cup macaroni mixture into each ramekin and sprinkle with 1/6 cup bread-crumb topping.
Bake until topping is browned and cheese is bubbling, 30-35 minutes. Serve hot.