Monday, August 30, 2010

put on a happy face

I could be pouting, fuming, ranting and many other -ings in addition to sweating, but I am trying to be an optimist.  It does not come naturally.  Today the glass is half full.  (One of my kids probably drank half already.)

Bug said he had no homework last week.  His friend had no homework folder on Monday either, so I didn't pursue it.  On Wednesday I encouraged him to "just check" so he wouldn't be stuck doing all the homework in one night.  He chose to not check.  On Friday he was required to forgo his "free centers" to get all the work done.  Apparently Someone had lost the homework folder. In his desk.  It took a while but I finally got the whole story out of him Friday afternoon.  A few minutes later his teacher phoned.  Her story matched his.  The consequence seemed appropriate and I doubt it will happen again.

On Friday I went to pick up the armchair I'd ordered.  I've been searching for Just The Right armchair for our den for about ten years.  This is to be My Chair.  (I will get up and offer it to my father in law, but he's probably the only lucky one.)  We've had lots of hand-me-down chairs in that location but I finally got My Chair.  It rocks.  It swivels.  Its comfy.  It took two warehouses and getting lost twice, but it finally made it home Friday afternoon.  On Saturday, at about 9:30 am, it had stains from blueberry pancakes.  The stains (one is greasy, one is blueberry) came out part way with dry cleaning fluid.  They don't show... much.  I'm trying to tell myself that it is over now, that I don't have to worry about when it will get its first stain anymore, that it is just a chair.  (This one is hard to make positive.  I will have to keep on it.)

The temperature is still close to ninety, but the humidity that hovered at 95% last weekend has dropped to something more manageable.  I am still sweating but my beads of sweat don't develop their own beads of sweat while running down my back.  (See how I can make these things sound positive!)

My boys are both playing baseball.  They both have practices on Saturdays and games on Sundays.  (See above, where I mentioned the 95% humidity from last weekend.)  Yesterday was a glorious day for baseball.  We spent almost all day at the ball park, but there was a pork butt in the crock pot with barbeque sauce all over it which awaited us when we finally got home at 7pm.  Yes, the six-year-olds have 5:30 games on school nights.  (I am not ending this with a positive spin....) The barbeque was good and he took a quick "business bath" and was tucked in by 8:00.

I forgot to pack any snacks for the ballpark.  After Bug scraped himself and wanted to wash it with a wet wipe, I dug in the sports bag.  I found no wet wipes, but I did find a ticket to the concession stand, lost since spring.  I sent him to see if it was still accepted (this distracted him from the injury just fine) and it was!  Then, as I continued to dig, I found a $20 bill.  I love forgotten money.

The cold I might have seems to not be the allergies I thought I had.  I went to bed at 9pm last night and I feel better.  I was not feeling significantly better while upside down in a down dog position at yoga this morning, but I think some Sudafed might help that out.  At least a cold has a short life.

It is time for me to get up off my duff (which has gotten three loads of laundry done today already) and go pick up the kids from school.  Exercise outdoors without horrid humidity.  And that is enough optimism for one day.

Friday, August 27, 2010

chicken nugget, anyone?

I have the goal of sending lunch boxes to school with the boys three times a week this year.  Maybe we'll make it four next year and everyday the year after.  We'll see.  This is hard enough as it is.  The first few days of school I let them eat the school lunch so they could learn their teachers' routines for doing so.  Then they took a lunch from home to learn that routine.  It took a week before I got a menu anyway. (I found one online that shows that the whole county is eating the same thing on the same day.)  Last week we did pretty well but I think they took their lunch just twice.  This week the menu had me more motivated.  They served chicken nuggets three times this week!

The menu on Monday,

Choice Of One Entrée:
  Asian Chicken Bites with Whole Grain Roll and Fried Rice
  Ravioli with Whole Grain Roll
Choice of two sides:
  Lettuce & Tomato
  Fruit Cocktail
  Mixed Vegetables
  Fresh Pears

Choice of Milk

Later in the week they served "Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets With Whole Grain Roll" and Friday was plain old "Chicken Nuggets With Whole Grain Roll".  I find several things wrong here.  I wonder if anyone noticed that there were nuggets three times this week. Then there is the bizarre pattern of including a roll with every dish, which according to the Jamie Oliver show has to do with government regulations gone awry.  The other days this week included a choice of a corn dog or nachos on Tuesday and fried chicken.or a turkey burger Thursday.  I let them eat lunch at school Thursday since the fried chicken is pretty good!

Our lunches from home were not really exciting this week.  Twice they took yogurt.  I have a "lunch menu" on the fridge which they can use to help make their own lunches.  I need to have egg salad or hummus around if I want them to choose it!  In general however, this menu is helping a good bit.  Also helping is that we've started making lunches after school for the following day and not waiting until the dinner craziness, bedtime or (the dreaded) breakfast and lunch being prepared at the same time.  Here is our menu:  (They always take water.)

bread products:
sandwich bread
mini croissant
whole grain crackers
mini muffin
bread stick
flour tortilla

deli meat
cheese slices/cubes
tofu spread
egg salad
pimento cheese spread

pasta sauce
salad dressing

fresh fruit whole/sliced
baby carrots
red bell pepper slices
snap peas

Treats: (not daily)
drinking yogurt/squeeze yogurt
chocolate milk box
lemonade powder (little tubes they can add to their water)
granola bar
cereal bar
dried fruit
honey stick

I am linking to Fed Up With Lunch for her Blogger Party. Join in!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I'm typing blind.  Good thing I know how to touch type because I had my eyes dilated this morning and I can't see squat.  She says she gave me the "baby drops" which should only last and hour.  Only it has been an hour and a half already.

It was the week for eyes around here.  Both Pook and I were sent annual reminders to make appointments in late July/ early August.  I made two appointments for the week before school was to start, arranged childcare for Bug and was all set.  Then our eye doctor canceled on us for what may have simply been a vacation. I decided to wait until things were settled with school so I could better judge our time, so I didn't make new appointments right away.

Then the brilliant nine year old in the house, (who I will allow to remain anonymous for this story) decided that a safe place for his glasses while at a slumber party and during a pillow fight was... on the floor.  Seems that after they got wrangled stomped upon destroyed bent then the dog ate one of the plastic lenses.   We went to replace them that afternoon, but it dawned on me that replacing them was foolish when they had an old prescription in them. 

Turned out that both my parents had eye appointments with the same doctor (on reference by us) on Tuesday.  We were able to slip the-child-who-shall-not-be-named in for a check up.  I picked him up at school at 10:00, took him to get his eyes dilated and checked.  We went to the mall immediately afterward to choose new frames, then I dropped him at school for the remaining hour.  We were able to "get new glasses in about an hour" quite successfully, and hit a 50% off sale at the same time.  (Poor kid probably had vision as blurry as mine is now.) 

My make-up appointment was this morning.  I drove home with very blurry vision.  I could tell there were cars around, see that there were street signs, but could not have read a sign.  Now my eyes are tired.  I should not be typing.  Instead, I shall go shelve books at the school library.  I will regret this.  What I really need is a nap.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'll save this until he's a teen

It has been a long time since I included a good Bug quote.

Yesterday he biked with a friend and scraped his arm and knee. I was bandaging him.

Bug: I was just going over the speed bump but I went too fast I guess.

Me: Now you've learned how fast is 'too fast' and next time you'll be fine.

Bug: Yeah, like teenagers have to learn a lesson that way a bunch of times cuz they don't listen when you warn them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

time lapse

It looks like it should all fit in.  On paper.  And yet, in real life, it doesn't seem to be working.  The school year is young, and it will get easier (before the holidays come and it gets harder) but we aren't able to have hindsight at this point.

The way it looks on paper:
                             Pook                         Bug
snack                    20 minutes                 20
piano                     20                            20
sax                        20                              -
homework               1 hour (?)                 20
silent reading          20                            20
physical therapy exercises -                     20               
totals                     2 hours 20 min         1 hour 40 minutes

The time between getting home from school before dinner is about three hours.  There is no opportunity for any of these activities after dinner.  We have bath/shower, read aloud time and tuck in.  I guess Pook sometimes reads silently in bed, sometimes we read for longer to him.  We're in book five of Harry Potter right now and so we usually read downstairs while Bug gets tucked. 

Since both boys consider silent reading to be a good thing, they sometimes read longer and don't go play.  Either way, it seems to me that they're getting a chance for free time.  And yet we haven't found it this school year.

I know Pook dawdles over homework.  I compared notes with the parents of his friends last year and the other boys seemed to accomplish in 20 minutes what Pook did in an hour.  Homework isn't particularly challenging, but when it is difficult it takes him even longer.  And when he's enjoying it he spends way too long-- as he did today, inventing an island and drawing a treasure map.  We got started late (what is a normal day anyway?) after Bug's piano lesson and an emergency visit to clean the school's fish tank.  (another post entirely).  By the time we were home it was 4:30 and I thought, having done all the busy work homework while I worked with the tank, that the map, the piano practice and saxophone time would all fit fine.  (I'd call it saxophone practice but he hasn't had a lesson yet so he's just "doodling".)  It did not.  I postponed dinner until he'd finished it all, but he and I both felt rushed and stressed.

Fall baseball has started too, fortunately only on weekends.  I've always tried to keep my kids under scheduled (in comparison to most others we know at least) and right now it does not feel under scheduled.  I'm wondering if it will all fit this year.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

here comes the band

Our school district may be cash poor (and indicting officials who made it that way) but they haven't cut the band and strings program.  Fourth grade is the beginning of musical instrument training for our kids.  Before school ended in May, Pook put down his first three choices for instruments: saxophone, trombone and trumpet. (I think in that order.)

I met the band teacher at registration, after he'd already had a conversation with both boys.  He knew we had a sax at home and seemed delighted.  "Um, we have a baritone sax.  Pook can't even pick it up.  You don't want him to play that do you?"  He was not bothered in the least.  I clarified that we'd be happy to rent a smaller sax if needed.  Then Bug piped up that he was going to play the tuba.  And, yes, I know he likes the tuba, but again, it is a tad big and he also knows he'd need to start on something that he can lift.  But the band instructor simply turned to Bug and told him he'd get a stand for the tuba for Bug in a few years.  What is this man thinking?  I'm picturing me having to buy a bigger car so I can transport a baritone sax and a tuba the mile up to the school.  Not gonna happen.  We also have a flute in the house. Anyone?

But Pook came home yesterday with the announcement that he needs to get an alto saxophone for band.  He's quite excited about it.  I'm not looking forward to the first bit of learning; my delicate ears are going to be under stress.  But two friends have trumpet and violin, so I feel more for their parents and I realize it could be worse!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

have fun, be good, learn something

New shoes!  (Return the new shoes since the sole is peeling off one already.)

New school supplies!  (What do you mean you are 'out of' crayons?  Go to three stores.  Go back tomorrow to get the additional notebook the teacher wants.  Go back the next day to get the binder the other teacher wants.)

New lunchboxes! (Leave them unused on top of the refrigerator because both kids want cafeteria lunches.)

Walk to school and back to pick them up in the afternoon!  (Drive to pick them up the next day because 96° was just too hot for walking.)

New school year!  (Miss them terribly for the whole first day.  Then not-so-much on Day Two.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

what I've learned about eggs

When you buy fresh eggs, the only thing you sacrifice is the ability to peel them hard boiled.  The older the egg, the easier it is to peel (that, and the phase of the moon perhaps) and fresh eggs are by definition, not old.   I've also learned that you don't have to refrigerate eggs unless they've been washed (mine have) and that a red spot in them does not mean that it was fertilized.  The Egg Man, who attends church with us, gives us the cartons with the most colorful combination of shells- tan, brown, green and blue, no white.  When I get a double yolk he wants to know what color egg it came from.  Double yolk eggs are fine to eat but when he wants to let a hen set and hatch a brood he wants to be sure there isn't a set of twins among them.  The process a chick uses to crack the egg and come out is quite systematic.  If two chicks are pecking in two areas of the shell and can't easily move about (because of the twin) they usually wear out and die before hatching.  The Egg Man wants to be on hand to assist at the birth as midwife if need be. (That idea amuses me!)   I also found out that a hen may lay an egg each day for over a week for her nest, but they all begin to develop when she finishes with her last egg and decides to set on the nest to keep them all warm.  Then they all hatch at the same time.

We learn all this by chatting with The Egg Man.  We still have never made it over to visit when he has little chicks.  The summer tends to be busy and little chicks don't wait for one to come home from a trip or finish camp before they grow into rather ungainly big chicks.

What I did not learn from him is how to make egg salad or deviled eggs with fresh eggs.  Deviled eggs are impossible I think, unless keeping fresh eggs around for two months in the fridge seems appealing.  But, today I attempted egg salad.  I've missed eating it. I've tried frying the eggs but a fried egg has a tougher white and leaves a strange texture in the egg salad.  Having been giving this thought for some time, I decided to poach the eggs. I cracked all the eggs into one bowl, figuring it didn't matter what they looked like in the end.  I brought a 10" pan with 2" of water to a boil and added 1/4 c. vinegar.  I don't think I needed the vinegar in hindsight because, again, I didn't care what the end product looked like.  I slid the eggs into the pan, put a lid on it and turned off the heat.  I left it on the burner for the residual heat however.  Since a poached egg is supposed to take about four minutes with this method and because I boil eggs in their shells in 15 minutes, I decided to check them after ten.  Twelve was the answer.  I scooped them out with a slotted spoon and put them in ice water to chill.  Then I successfully made egg salad!