Monday, February 26, 2007

The Best Medicine

Today was a Monday - a good day, but a very busy day - a Monday. I had 6 meetings during the school day (4 gifted referral meetings, 1 Care Team meeting, and 1 Student Support Team meeting), so I had three different substitutes in my classroom throughout much of the day. I would rather have been with my students. However, a lot was accomplished on behalf of individual education programs for 6 of my students, so it was a productive day.

I came home wiped out emotionally and intellectually. I found a remedy. We loaded up the kids and headed to our church's ball field that is seldom used this early in the season. Our little family of five had a blast! We hit the ball, ran bases, caught flies, chased grounders, laughed, and had a great time! My right arm hasn't had a workout like that in years and feels like a limp noodle right now, but it was well worth it! It was 70 degrees and BEAUTIFUL outside and it couldn't have been a better way to end the day! Now, we're rejuvenated and ready for homework! What great medicine for a tiring day!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday Seven #1

1. RJ, the kids, and I enjoyed a day together at the ball park yesterday for softball/baseball tryouts. It was a lot of fun and a beautiful day to be outside!

2. I met with all three of my kids' teachers this week to talk about their progress and school achievements. It's always enlightening to hear about your children from someone else who knows them well. They have great, loving, and caring teachers.

3. E and I got up early this morning and made pancakes together. It was fun to work in the kitchen and have time to talk and listen to him this morning.

4. N and I went for a walk together this week. Again, having time with just one child at a time is precious! She talked the entire walk.

5. B and I had time alone for a quick errand run this week. It's nice to find out what she's thinking and how she perceives things are going.

6. I completed all 20 of my parent/teacher conferences on a positive note. I had 2 particular concerns that were discussed productively. I feel like we're headed in the right direction with both of these kids, and the parents and administration are supportive of my efforts. It's good to know we're all on the same page and have the children's best interest in mind.

7. The gorgeous, warm weather has made being outside wonderful! I have spring fever already!

8. Bonus: I planned a trip this week for my family and my parents. We're going over Spring Break and I can't wait! I'm anxious to go and spend some good time together!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It's Been a While

It's been a while, but I'm finally back. I've missed blogging, but just haven't had time to write in a while. It's been conference time at work. Conference week is a very valuable time, but it makes for a chaotic, hectic, and exhausting week. Having had them 2 years, I have grown very close to this class and their parents. It will be hard to let them go to 2nd grade without me! My students are outstanding little people and this group of parents is very loving, concerned and involved with their children. They want what is best for them, value my input, and are truly partners with me in education. We had profitable planning and progress conversations last week. It's nice to know we're all on the same page concerning academic needs for the remainder of the school year. However, it's taken me a week to recuperate from all the meetings, paperwork, documentation, and planning and get caught up on laundry and housework!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Oh, My! What Children Learn at School!

Yesterday I was asking my 5-year-old kindergartner about his day at school. "Did you have a good day?" I asked.

He sighed and said in an exasperated voice, "Yes. It was OK, but M and I had to have a SERIOUS talk."

M is a cute little girl in his class who he has referred to as his girlfriend all year. She refers to herself in that manner, too. Each time I see her in the hallway, she yells, "Hey, E's mom! I'm E's girlfriend!" RJ and I don't encourage this kind of talk and I often try to make as little of it as possible to try to discourage it. But, this had my curiosity. I wondered if his teacher had made them sit and talk because they interrupted class, or what had happened to warrant a SERIOUS talk...and what is a SERIOUS talk to two 5-year-olds?! So, I asked, "Who said you had to have a serious talk."

"M did," he replied.

"Really, why?" I asked.

"Well, I played with R (Who, by the way, is a boy.) more than I played with her on the playground, and she said if I'm her boyfriend I have to play with her the most. But I told her that once we're married, I AM going to go out and play with the boys sometimes!" E explained to me.
I was flabbergasted! How does he know this stuff?

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Super Bowl Fiesta

We are having a Super Bowl fiesta at our house this evening. I'm not at all a football fan and have realized that having a party is the way to go. The game is going to be on no matter what, so why not have good food and friends? That way, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

First, I have a funny story for you. E, my 5 year old son, went with me Friday night to find some bowls and trays with a football theme. We toured the party store and saw all kinds of sports-themed party ware. As we were standing in front of a big display of paper products with various sports balls on them, I started picking up some football items. E said to me in a patronizing voice, "Mom, you know this is for the Super BOWL." The word "bowl" was said very distinctively and lasted 3x longer than it does when most people say the word. I assured him that I knew it was the Super Bowl. He said, "Then don't we need these?" He pointed to bowling party ware - bowling ball plates, bowling pin napkins, etc. At least he's thinking and trying to participate!

For our party tonight I've chosen a Mexican theme for the food. Why, you ask? Because that's what I like and I'm cookin'. I tried to tie something in to the Bears or Colts, but horse and bear food just doesn't seem appetizing. So, I took the wild approach and am preparing food with a theme that has no relation to the Super Bowl. I live on the wild side.

Our menu tonight is: taco soup, Mexican chicken casserole, 7-layer Mexican dip, nacho cheese dip, strawberry-walnut salad, veggie tray, fruit tray, and for dessert - lemon, mango, and key-lime squares. I'll also set out Doritos, Frito's, Skittles, and nuts for munching on during the game.

None of the recipes are original to me, with the possible exception of the 7-layer Mexican dip. I don't even know if my final version has 7 layers. I just included my favorite parts from several versions of the same dip. I think it will be good. Here are the recipes for the main dishes.

Mexican Chicken Casserole
From Paula Deen's Food Network Website
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cheddar cheese soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 4 cups cooked chopped chicken
  • 1 package flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together the 3 kinds of soup and the tomatoes. Stir in the chicken. Layer the tortillas and the chicken mixture in the pan, beginning and ending with tortillas. Sprinkle the cheese over the casserole and bake for 30 minutes.

My family is full of good cooks. I don't have to look far to find good recipes. Even my mom from Daddy's Roses, who claims not to enjoy cooking is very natural in the kitchen and an excellent cook. My aunt, The Median Sib, is another wonderful cook and the next recipe is hers.

Romaine/Strawberry/Walnut Salad

  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • walnuts (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Dressing (recipe below)

Wash and tear the lettuce into a large salad bowl. Add the sliced strawberries, chapped walnuts, and grated cheese. Immediately before serving, toss with the salad dressing.


  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Tantalizing Taco Soup

This recipe is from one of my cousins who is a fabulous cook and has many good ideas.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • Up to 2 tomato soup cans of water

Brown the ground beef and onion together. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer. Serve with toppings like Fritos, corn chips, sour cream, salsa, and grated cheese.

7-Layer Nacho Dip

  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • chopped lettuce
  • 8 oz picante sauce
  • black olives
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 carton guacamole dip
  • 1 small chopped onion

Spread refried beans in the bottom of a glass 9x13 glass dish. Mix cream cheese, sour cream, and taco seasoning. Spread this mixture on top of the refried beans. Layer guacamole dip, picante sauce, onion, lettuce, cheese and olives. Serve with nacho chips.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Little Help, Here?

Tonight I was working on some food for the super bowl party we're having tomorrow evening. I like to get as much done ahead of time as I can. I was also putting away clean dishes from the dishwasher and folding and putting away laundry. I filled the washing machine with water and detergent and asked my youngest daughter to put the clothes from the hamper into the machine. I should have spoken more clearly. It's a big hamper, and there were enough clothes in it for at least 2 more loads of laundry. I turned my attention to the ground beef I was browning and really didn't think about the clothes again.

My daughters are both terrific helpers. When I ask them to do something, I rarely have to redo the chore or check up on them. Many minutes later, I returned to the washer to find my eight-year-old STANDING on the washing machine straddling the opening. She was packing the clothes with all of her might into the machine, and every single article of clothing from the dirty clothes hamper was in the washer! It was one of the funniest sights I'd ever seen. She was pushing those clothes down determined to make them fit! She was very proud of her accomplishment! She is priceless! I appreciate the persistence and determination with which she tried to help me!

We took quite a few articles of clothing out of the machine and set them aside to wait for the next load. It was still very full, and the washer shook wildly during both spin cycles. No problem for us, though. We've learned that 3 children sitting on top of a washing machine will keep it from vibrating and serve as a fun ride. There's never a dull moment in our house!

Saturday Gratitude #5

A friend of mine was buried Thursday after dying suddenly from a brain aneurysm. On the day I traveled 4 hours round trip to attend her funeral, I thought about the many things in my daily life that I am fortunate enough to have life and breath to enjoy. I am thankful for simple pleasures. I am thankful for running water, sunshine, the smell of flowers, the look of ice glistening in the sun as it weighs down tree limbs, beautiful sunny days, and Kleenex. I am thankful for good friends to cry with and friends to travel 4 hours with and never run out of conversation. I am thankful for the love and support of family. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for time - time to share with my kids, husband, parents, family, and friends. I am thankful that breathing is easy, walking is effortless, communicating is natural, and living is not a struggle or battle. I take these blessings for granted. I am thankful for today and the life to enjoy it. I don't know what tomorrow holds. I have a renewed intention to cherish each moment with loved ones, enjoy life, look for the positive, play, make time for important things, show love always, and help others freely. My blessings are too many to count, but I don't want that to stop me from counting them every day.