Monday, May 28, 2012

A Healthy Diet

At one point, I thought that our family ate a pretty healthy diet.  Cereal for breakfast, lots of sandwiches & cottage cheese lunches, fresh fruits, and pasta dinners.  (And don't forget the Dove dark chocolate!) But lately, it has been occurring to me that most of these foods, while low in fat and calories, are very processed and probably not all that "healthy".  I've read a lot about gluten free and am reading more about the excessive amounts of sugar in our processed foods and have come to the realization that our family really could eat better.  So while I'm not ready to cut out dairy and go totally grain free, I think reducing our dairy, grain, and gluten intake while increasing fresh produce and fish would be good for us.

A friend recommended looking into "Paleo" eating.  (Paleo is basically eating a diet like our ancestors did during the Paleolithic time period.  Which, basically comes down to eating off the land --fruits, veggies, and some grass fed beef, free range chicken, and wild caught fish.  It also means cutting out dairy, grains, and legumes.) She recommended a cookbook ("Everyday Paleo"), which I ordered online and it arrived about a month ago.   I was so excited to look through it and get some new dinner & snack ideas.

And now, we've been eating "Paleo" dinners for about three weeks.  I'm proud that we're doing this but it was HARD at first!  I miss grains and sugar and dairy.  (Although, I must admit that I don't crave it nearly as much as I did) I do feel better and have more energy.  But I haven't gotten miraculously skinny-- which better happen if I'm giving up cereal!  I also don't like obsessing about what I eat-- and when I'm watching what I eat, I tend to get a little over- anxious about things.  I have to remind myself that my goal in doing this is to really increase our health through our diet.  It takes a bit of planning, but I've been meal-planning for well over three years so we're okay on that front.  (Unfortunately, we can't always get to Hy-Ve or Roots which houses a lot of the ingredients necessary for Paleo cooking.  I guess it's time to look into online ordering?) Now that I feel like I have a handle on the dinners, I am hoping to incorporate more lunch and breakfast ideas this summer.  The look of our refrigerator and pantry is slowly changing-- as we stock things like almond flour and unsweetened coconut flakes and remove things like blueberry mini muffins and goldfish crackers.  But we still have milk and cottage cheese in the fridge and I don't plan on those going anywhere anytime soon.   Maybe someday, but in Spahnville, we're all about baby steps.

1.  I think the first step is coming to an awareness that the way we were currently eating was not the healthiest.

2.  I know that I will not stick to any kind of "diet" especially if there is nothing "tasty" available-- so we're trying, but also forgiving ourselves when we make a bad choice

3.  We allow some "breaks" once a week.  We have had Friday night pizza at Nana Rosa's.  The closest thing to "healthy" that was on our table was the ice water.

Here are the tiny baby steps we've made that seem to be sustainable:

* HUGELY cut sugar.  Did you know sugar is lurking in everything!?  Especially "healthy" treats like yogurt, peanut butter, and dried fruit.  So, we've been nixing the yogurt, switched to almond butter (yum!) and really limit dried fruit (and I'm trying to find a food dehydrator!).

* Started drinking pasteurized, non-homodenized milk.  Paleo involves cutting out dairy but I just can't go there yet.  I figure this is a tiny bit more 'natural'.

* Take a TBS of Fermented Cod Liver oil every night.  (Yes, it tastes as bad as it sounds [although the licorice flavor is pretty good!] but it is supposedly the #1 superfood out there, and one of the BEST immunity boosters around. C even takes it-- and often asks for more)  And... knock on wood... Spahnville has had a really healthy winter!

* Buy local eggs

* Started buying grass-fed beef and free-range chicken breasts  (Thank you Hy-Vee for these options)

* Drastically reduced grains (breads, noodles, buns, cereal, chips, etc.) We have bought a few gluten free varieties like GF Rice Crispies and the Almond chips which aren't too bad.

* Increasing our fish intake-- We have had fish tacos several times (which are AMAZING) and we've had salmon fillets for the past three weeks.  (I need to find some more salmon recipes and tilapia recipes because we love it)

* Increase our produce intake.  For the past two weeks, over half of our grocery bill was spent on fresh produce.  It is pricey but soooo good for you--especially if you know how to prepare it.  We've experimented with kale and chard--both of which aren't too bad.

These are tiny tiny steps, but ones that I think we can continue.  At first, I was very concerned about how to get C to eat more of these things.  We always put "our meal" on his plate and he always tries it.  Sometimes he likes it, sometimes he doesn't.  But at this point, I realize that if he's eating a lot of deli meat, cheese, fruits, and veggies at supper time, that is better than what previously filled his plate.  I felt bad for not piling on the noodles, chicken nuggets, and tator tots, but I'm slowly getting over it.  Baby steps, Karah.  Baby steps.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Too Tight for Comfort

(Originally written on Feb 28, 2012.... but still applicable today)

When I was a kid, my grandpa Bernie had an old-fashioned coin operated scale in his bathroom.  I LOVED standing on that thing!  I remember when I "turned" 100 pounds.  (Isn't it crazy that at one time in my life I couldn't wait to "get there" with weight?)

Then, when I was in high school, and miraculously in the midst of my crazy high self-esteem period (seriously), I never worried about my weight.  Judging by some of my hs pictures, maybe I should have cared a bit more.  And what's even stranger is that I had to walk around in a Speedo five days a week for work.  Come to think of it, maybe that is why I didn't care about weight....

Anyway, I went off to college, gained the usual Freshman 15 (or was it 20?) and then lost it that summer as I jogged and worked out like crazy.  It all came back the next year-- but I lost it again the summer I worked in Colorado at a camp.  (Hiking, swimming, camping all summer long will help in the weight loss department) Then, I really gained it back.  I ate like I did at camp but didn't move nearly as much.  So I was in this cycle of gain/ lose/ gain/ lose.

I really gained weight my senior year of college.  I don't think it's any coincidence that this was undoubtedly the most fun year of my college experience either.  Most of my leisure time was spent.... indulging.  Mostly in food.  And lots of drinks too.

But again, I lost most of that weight as I plowed through the next 2 1/2 years of grad school. (I think the coffee and smoke-filled bars for "study group" helped with the weight loss) And then, fast forward ten years (gasp!) and it dawns on me that I've really maintained a pretty steady weight.  Of course, I gain a bit over the winter but then drop it the minute summer hits.  I never try to "watch" what I eat because it seems like my obsessive personality tends to go into overdrive when I do that and it makes me crazy.  Instead, I tend to eat pretty much whatever I want within reason.  Then I don't get all weird with cravings and rules.  This means I'll eat fast food-- if we're on vacation.  I'll eat the cupcake-- if it's a party.  I'll eat the eggroll--  but only one.

I used to step on the scale every day and kind of judge my day by that number.  ("Stay away from the lounge food today!")  And honestly, although I appreciate that number, I actually judge my "fatness" from the way my clothes fit, rather than the number on the scale.

And recently.... my clothes are suddenly..... kinda tight.  I resorted to wearing my fat khakis to work the other day and they didn't leave a lot of room for fatness.  The day we had a financial meeting and I wore my work pants all day I about died from discomfort.  The first thing I do when I get home is pull on yoga pants---ahhhhh.  But unfortunately, I can't wear yoga pants to work. Dang it.

Maybe it's because there for awhile, I couldn't eat just three Thin Mints.  Or maybe it's because this winter I found a new love for Tostito chips with cheese and salsa.  Or maybe my body wants me to exercise more. (ugh)

As I mentioned in another post, I committed to participating in a sprint triathlon at the end of June.  I'm not sure why I did this-- a moment of insanity? My friend and recent race junkie, talked me into doing this.  And honestly, I'm a little nervous!  She's been so involved in exercise and health and fitness lately that I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up with her.  The first time I tried to jog, I ran all of 3 blocks and almost had some kind of massive lung-collapse.  (self-diagnosis)  But last week (May 16) I was able to run 3 miles.  So I'm slowly getting there.

See, the problem is that while I don't love feeling chubby, I have very little motivation.  This getting up at 5:15 to start my workout BY 5:30 am just KILLS me.  We tried having me go for a run when M came home from work but that just did not work well.  I'm hoping when school is out, I'll have more time to get my workout in, but I know it will still be a sacrifice.  (Then after that dang triathlon I can go back to sleeping in until 6:00!)

I'm hoping my clothes will feel looser in a month or so.  In addition to training, we usually walk everywhere in the summer.  Unless we head "to town" (30 min drive), we walk.  We usually walk to a park in the morning, and go for a walk after supper. We play on the playset or head to the pool in the afternoon, and grab the bikes for a pre-bedtime ride.  Although this won't get me ready for the triathlon, it makes sense that my clothes will feel better by mid summer.

That, and the fact that the Girl Scouts don't sell cookies in June.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Welcome. To. Summer.

Farewell Parkersburg Elementary!  I love ya but I'm totally gonna leave ya.  For about 10 weeks.  

This morning, the students and staff of Parkersburg Elementary gathered around this flag pole and said The Pledge of Allegiance and then The Kid of Character Pledge. (Below)

I pledge to be a kid of character.
I will be worthy of trust.
I will be respectful and responsible, doing what I must.
I will always act with kindness, I will show that I care,
I will be a good citizen, and always do my share.

They all know it by heart-- and I think every classroom recites both pledges each day.  It's always one of my favorite moments in the school year-- it's just so picturesque and.... for lack of better words, "American".  I always get a rush of love when I hear those young voices reciting those familiar words.  And on a day like today, bright and sunny (and WINDY!), you hear those words, you look around at those faces, and you have a little hope for the future and this generation.

And then you go inside.

And (pardon my French) the $hit hits the fan.

Holy.  Freaking.  Crazy-ness.  And NOT in an old-school good way.

My plan was to meet and say goodbye to some of my frequent flyers this morning.  (I probably should have planned about 10 mornings to devote to them rather than one.) Then, I hoped to pop into each classroom and say goodbye for the summer.  However, the cherubs at school had different plans.  Without too many details and still remaining confidential I will say that I met with a good share of students today-- due to poor behavior.  On the last day of school!  Seriously!  More than a handful of office referrals?  More than a handful of recess incidents?  Kids lost recesses, priviledges, and "fun time" because they couldn't control their behavior for 5 hours!  They were mean and rude and disrespectful.  And on the last day of school-- a day reserved for total "fun-ness" where most teachers play games, clean their rooms, do little projects, watch videos, eat in their rooms, and spend extra time outside.

I was disappointed in the kids.  I'm not going to get into it now, but I have serious serious concerns about the way kids react to and deal with things today.  And I know it's "everywhere" but that doesn't really comfort me at all.  But I'm also disappointed in myself.  I don't think any of the kids who waltzed through my revolving door today were new to my office.  So what went wrong?  I ask myself, "Where did I go wrong?"  "How can we be dealing with the same issues in May that we already dealt with in September?  And November.  And March."

I know summer is tough for a LOT of kids.  It's unstructured.  It's disorganized.  It can be lonely.  It can be over-filled.  It looks so fun to parents but I know that soooo many kids struggle with summer.  I know this affects their behavior the last week of school. It causes crazy anxiety and weird acting out.  And I also know that I do not have a magic wand and cannot magically fix kids who are naughty at school and home.  But if I did have a magic wand, I would wish for kids to be able to do this one thing:  "I will be respectful and responsible, doing what I must."  That alone, would have eliminated every single behavioral issue we had today.

And with that.... I welcome summer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Burn the Floor! (A review...sort of)

One of my new life goals is to see a live theater performance each year.  I should add these clarifications to that sentence:

*  A performance that does not take place in a school gym or auditorium
*  A performance that probably will not be featuring anyone that we are related to

So back in March, I bought tickets to "Burn the Floor".  It's subtitled, "Ballroom Reinvented" which is a pretty accurate description of what we saw a few weekends ago.  We had no idea what to expect so I was sweetly surprised by the musical, lyrical, and dance talent that we saw on stage.

The show consisted of 10 couples from various countries (Australia, Great Britain, Slovenia, Venezuela, UK, USA, Uruguay, South Africa, and Philippines) who were extremely well versed in dance.  Some were world champions, some had performed on Broadway, some were finalists on TV Reality shows, and some had been featured in the Olympics.  Accompanying the dancers live on stage were two percussionists (also very skilled and with many Broadway credits) and two vocalists (the male had played "Roger" in RENT-- stole my heart right there) who were an amazing addition to the show.

As the dancers opened the show dancing in the aisles, I was awestruck by their solid beautiful bodies.  I leaned over to M and whispered, "I need to start working out".  He made some comment about the pleather pants and fish net stockings.  I didn't really want to visualize myself in either of those things so I just stared at the bodies on stage.  I don't think I took my eyes away from the stage for the two hours we spent in the Great Hall.  The dances were classic, edgy, old, new, slow, fast, relaxing, and energizing.  They involved one couple or as many as 8 couples all dancing together on stage.  I've never been to a live dance show Professional Dance Show but am glad we took the gamble on this one.  (I totally danced my way through making supper that night--- kinda glad the blinds were down and no pleather pants were involved though)

If you have the chance to see this show, grab some tickets!  Just be careful-- you may come home all geared up to dance the night away.   Which may (or in my case: may not) be something your family will thank you for.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mother's Day Take Three

On May 13, I celebrated my THIRD Mother's Day.  Wow!  Somedays, it feels like every part of me is dripping with "Mom-ness"-- from my way old and comfy jeans to the little sun spots that are starting to lovingly pepper the corners of my lips to my feelings of our society being rude and out of control.  And then other days, it feels like I am a million people (wife, counselor, neighbor, chef, artist, professional organizer, gardner, wanna-be-author,) with mother coming in as kind of an after thought.

If you have read this blog for awhile, you might remember my last Mother's Day and what a doozy it was.  (If you have forgotten, you can check it out here.) So I was a tiny bit nervous about Mother's Day weekend-- and especially when C was cranky and whiny Saturday morning.  But something miraculous happened---  we had a the most amazing Mother's Day.  Here's the recap: 

C wanted to spend as much time with me as possible so he woke up around 6:05 Sunday morning.  (I wanted to spend time with him too, but I probably would've been okay if he had chosen to sleep in until  maybe 7:00.)  I may or may not have suggested that he and Daddy go get a donut from the store while I lie in bed for another ten minutes-- which is exactly what they did.  Too bad our good girl needed to still be let out and didn't think Mother's Day was any exception to her bladder control.  

Anyway, the boys came back with sprinkle cake donuts (MY FAVORITE) and cookies and we gobbled them up.  (Please dismiss this sentence when you read a future blog post about our new healthy lifestyle)  The weather was simply beautiful so we jumped on our bikes (actually, C jumped in the bike trailer and as he did so my bike fell over--pinning his foot to the cement.  It was a minor catastrophe that was quickly forgotten with a trip to the tennis courts) and headed to the Purple Park.  While there, we played tennis (throw the ball over the net), dug with the diggers, and played on the equipment.

Kisses during breakfast
After leaving the park, we had a quick snack and then I dropped C off at his daycare provider's house.  (Long story short:  We had tickets to see "Burn the Floor" at Galagher.  We had NO idea that Mother's Day was like a National Holiday in GC and everyone does massive family things and 3 people offered to babysit and then backed out b/c of Mother's Day.  So..... Nicole offered to help out and in return, we get to have her toddler play at our house two nights this week while they attend awards banquets) 

We picked up C after the [amazing] show and proceeded to have a wonderful night.  C and I played at a park before coming home to make supper and give him & M a little time to play outside.  After eating on the deck (a new favorite of C's) we came inside, took a (much needed) bath, read a million books, and had lights out.  I was totally exhausted so I turned in early for the night.  M worked in the basement, cleaned up the kitchen, then enjoyed a glass of wine while I was already sawing zzzzz's.  Hey, on Mother's Day, 8:30 is a perfectly appropriate bedtime, isn't it?  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hey Little Ant

It’s amazing how much of a time warp you live in when you share your life with a toddler.  For instance, the other evening, C & I took a walk around the block.  One block.  In that time, M mowed and weed wacked our yard.  Our entire yard.  And yes, our yard is small but the block is really not that big.  So what took us so long? 


Those little 6 legged creatures that are mysteriously captivating if you take the time to just sit and watch them. 

As we walked down the sidewalk, I pointed out some ants to Charlie.  He squatted down in that toddler squat that only sturdy, toddler legs can handle for more than one minute.  He inspected the ants.  He peered closer.  He tried to touch them.  We noticed they were moving something. 

“What moving mama?”

Upon further inspection, we realized that the [giant/huge] thing they were moving was a dead fly. 

“Where taking it?”

“Looks like they are trying to get it down the hole.”

Charlie squinted at the ant hill.  He bent down closer.  He tentatively reached out and touched the tiny ‘structure’. 

“What this?”  Charlie asked. 

“It’s an ant hill.”

“No, what this?” he repeated.

“Um….. I think it’s an ant hill?”

“No Mama!  What this!?  It mud? “

“Ahhhh,  those are tiny pieces of dirt.  The ants bring it back and put it in a pile.  They make an ant hill out of dirt.”

(This next part is the most amazing part to me.)

You could see C’s wheels just turning in his head.  His big blue eyes looked up to me and asked,

“Ants live there?”

“Yeah!  They live in there.  Down that hole.”

“It their house?”

“Yep!  It’s their house.  It’s made out of dirt.”

“Like this house?” (He points to the house we were  sitting in front of) “Like a people house?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!”  (I think maybe I snatched him up and hugged and squeezed him because of this brilliant connection and assessment he had just made)  But C wasn’t finished with his interpretation of the activity happening at his feet. 

“Ants take big fly down hole?  To house? “

“Yep.  Looks that way.  It will be a tasty treat for the Queen.”

“Ants eat the BIG FLY!”


And for the rest of the walk we novice entomologists chattered about those little creatures and how they built a home out of dirt and then maneuvered that big fly down the tiny hole.   And how maybe now they will go and eat it up.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I Love Spring. I Hate May.

Augh.  I'm having such a hard time with this one!!  Isn't spring the best season ever?  Here are my favorite parts of spring:

* Daylight!!  (Especially the 6:00 am light and 8:00 pm light!)
* Birds chirping
* Clothes on the clothesline
* 7:00 Dinner time
* Parks
* Walks
* Outdoor crafts
* Annual flowers
* Greenhouses
* Bike rides
* Our deck
* Track meets
* The smell of freshly mowed grass
* Open windows
* Sandals
* T-shirts
* Continuous pony-tails
* Open moon roof
* Spring cleaning
* The end of the school year!!!

That last one is maybe my favorite part of spring!  BUT...... it also causes me HUGE anxiety.  Like crazy huge.   I've been 'on edge' for the past two weeks and I know it's because it's the end of the year.  Everything at school is escalating.  Behavior incidents, recess incidents, friendship/ enemy problems, parent concerns, student concerns, teacher concerns.  And I know that summer is not all lazy-hazy for many kids.  It's chaos and disorganized and messy and in some cases it's really hard to handle.

At our own house, I feel the tension as my organization mission feels like its heading (very quickly) in the complete opposite of "organized".  M is working on finishing up the basement bedroom and I'm slowly getting a minute here or there to refinish the table/chairs/dressers/ coffee tables that are cluttering up our garage.  I'm trying to find time to train for a triathlon that is very clearly going to happen whether I am ready or not!  My perennials are growing quickly out of hand, the dandelions are taking over my flower beds, and our vegetables are nowhere near being planted.  I have letters to write, graduation gifts to buy, wedding cards to send, and C's adorable artwork to display.  Our bathrooms need cleaning, our beds need changing, and quite honestly, everything could probably use a good dusting--- until the next time we open up the windows and turn on the ceiling fans.

There is this idea that when summer comes for teachers, the world opens up and hands you this giant huge COLOSSAL gift called........  "FREE TIME".   You don't have to work!  You just lie in bed, read books, eat pancakes every morning, take your kids on educational field trips,  wash your delicates by hand, do a daily craft, eat lots of popsicles, hang out by the pool, and doze the summer away.

But the reality is that when summer time comes it's like:  "Oh $hit!  I need to get some much overdue projects accomplished!  I'm going to actually wash our windows.  I'm going to actually take the four garbage bags of clothing to Goodwill.   I'm going to recycle things that are recyclable and not throw them away just because or Recycling bin is overflowing.  I'm going to clean out the shed so that I can find one of my 50 million planters or garden clippers.  And.... I should be networking with other school counselors to find fun and creative projects and interventions to help put an end to bullying forever!"  (no pressure, right?)

And then, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking things like: "I should do fun things!  I should complete some fun projects! I should do nothing school-related!"  So here is my list of things I want to   (not should)  complete this summer:

1.  Finish organizing the play room  (it's getting closer!)
2.  Clean out (REALLY clean out) the garage
      2a.  Organize.  (REALLY organize) the garage
3.  Organize my iphotos
4.  Scrapbook
5.  Golf
6.  Work Out
7.  Go Camping
8.  Pay attention to our veggie garden
9.  Read light, cheesy, and sexy summer books
10.Go to garage sales

And just reading that list gives me anxiety.  We only have 9 weeks of summer. How am I going to be so productive, get my rest, get in the best shape of my life, and complete my entire "to do" list in just 9 little weeks!?

What?  What's that you say?  I'm not?

Nope.  So I think my new to do list should look something like this:

#1.  Relax.
#2.  Enjoy the sunshine.
#3.  Do a project if you feel the urge.  If not, read a book, drink some wine, browse the internet.
#4.  Soak up family time.
#5.  Be okay with what you get.  And be okay with what you don't.  

Yeah.  That sounds like me.  (sarcasm)  For now, I'll just deal with the anxiety and try to get another project accomplished soon.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Snail Mail

Although I don't have any "collections" (too much clutter, take up too much space, too much dusting involved) I have managed to collect pretty much every piece of snail mail I've ever received.  Of course, I didn't save junk mail or just anything that arrived in my mailbox-- it had to be something that was hand written from someone I knew.  At one time, I had birthday cards from when I was young, notes that were passed in middle school, and long letters from first boyfriends (gag).  A few years ago (nine, to be exact) I went through many of these cards and notes and tossed the ones that I didn't really ever want to read again.  You know the kind...  The ones that make you feel queasy in your stomach because you were once so..... young?  And said such...... inappropriate/ mean/ weird/ misinformed/ immature/ (need I go on?) things.  And I really didn't want to read notes explaining why my best friends were mad at me or how much my boyfriend loved me or how crazy my parents were ever again.

But I hung onto a few--as in an entire Rubbermaid container full--see right-->

And lately (of course) I've been organizing them into a more .... organized (?) pile.  I love the letters and cards I received from my sister when she was in high school and I was away at college.  I love the letters I have from the friends I made while working at Camp-- and the letters I received from my hometown friends while I was at Camp.  I love the letters my dad wrote when he would send me my monthly U-Bill check (remember life before direct deposit?).  I love the notes my mom would leave me before she left for the weekends to attend her college classes.  I love the letters from my Great Grandma Ella, who, ironically, lived most of her life in the same county that I currently live.  I love the letters from my aunts-- two in particular (Aunt Trisha & Auntie San) who were particularly good about communicating with their little niece.  I also love the letters I have from friends--especially when we were in our separate places during the summer months of college.

As I was rummaging through these letters, I suddenly got sad that we just don't write letters anymore.  Of course, it's fun to get the letters in the mailbox, but you also have something that captures time for a moment.  Unlike our personal diaries or journals or blog posts, the letters we receive are written from someone else's view.  So we get to see what is (at the time) pertinent information to them, what's interesting about our own lives (to them), and a tiny glimpse at how they view the world and it's happenings.  As I re-read the letters from my college friends, I thought about memories that I had completely forgotten (or maybe suppressed) and people that I rarely think about now.  I was instantly take back to a time in my life that seems sooooo far away from the present.  I was also a little humbled by how amazing my friends are.  I felt a wave of awe as I read such funny, insightful, heartbreaking, honest, caring, worried, and concerned letters from my friends.  And I'm so thankful that their emotions were captured in writing, and tucked into an envelope for me to look through again and again.

I feel a little sad for "the youth of today" ('cuz I'm an old lady) who will probably not have an entire Rubbermaid container of snail mail letters to re-read someday.  It's not that I don't think kids express themselves and their feelings to their friends today-- it's just done differently.  It's done in two second text messages, or facebook posts, or tweets.  It's done constantly throughout the day.  And believe me, I LOVE getting a fun text--especially when I'm having a doozy of a day.  But, in 20 years, I don't think I'm going to be sorting through my old text messages (and probably trying to decode them) or glancing through facebook posts of what people ate for dinner.  And in many ways, a lot of 'what happened' will have been lost.  And for that, I am a little sad.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Beauty of a Book Report

Okay, by now whoever reads this blog is probably tired of my posts about the treasures I’ve uncovered while organizing my life.  And for that, I apologize.  And then I encourage you to not read the rest of this post because it’s about another treasure I recently found.

I found this:

It’s my fourth grade Reading Journal.  Basically, our assignment was to keep track of the books we were reading, write a little about what was happening in the story, and then our [amazing, wonderful, one of my favorites ever] teacher would read them, make a comment or ask a question and hand them back to us.  Of course, I remember loving Reading Journal time.  I mean, a specific time devoted to writing about the books we were reading!?  Who wouldn’t love that?  (I don’t think I even realized this might be a horrible assignment for some kids)

I can remember many of the books that are documented in that journal, but of course, I’ve forgotten many too.   Which brings me to my next point:  I wish I had recorded all of the books I’ve read throughout the years.  How neat would that be to go back and see what I’ve read? 

A few entries about the book, "Charlotte's Web"

In 2008, I joined the free website:
I love goodreads because it allows me to not only keep track of the books I’ve read, rate them, and write a brief review of them, but it also allows me to categorize them, mark books I’d like to read, view what my friends are reading (although some of you don’t ever update and I wish you would!) and read reviews that others have written.  It also recommends books for me based on books that I have enjoyed.  I just LOVE this site!  There have been quite a few times where I have logged in to jog my memory about a book I read, an author I enjoyed, or find a recommendation for a friend.  And for this reason, I’m so glad I’ve been writing them down. (I think you can see my goodreads site here:

Call me crazy to willingly do little “book reports” when I’m a grownup and have nothing assigned to me.  But I have to admit, I’m kind of glad I’ve been writing down the books I’ve read for so many years.  It lets my inner school nerd have a good outlet and keeps my forgetful brain from forgetting all the amazing (and sometimes not so amazing) things I've read.    

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Good Cry

Have you ever had those moments where nothing is really bothering you?  Nothing terrible just happened, nobody said anything mean to you, you're not physically hurt or injured, everything is going along pretty good in your life... yet you find yourself on the verge of tears?  And then, at the strangest moment (for me it's those Mother's Day Pampers commercials with the mama animal & baby animal-- or reading the book "Someday") you just feel the tears let loose?  And no matter how sunny it is outside, it just feels so good to cry---and cry---and cry.  And then, when your face is all red and puffy and looks like you've just suffered something terrible, you're ready to make dinner, throw in a load of laundry, and go about your regularly scheduled life?  You know that kind of cry?

Well, I think my son maybe inherited this.... need..... from me.  (Or else he's just being two-- which is probably more accurate)  

Here's the scoop: 

I ran to the library after work one afternoon and grabbed a few books for C.  I found one that we had checked out ages ago called, "What Shall We Do With the Boo-Hoo Baby?" and C had found hysterical.  We loved that book last fall!  It was funny to read about the animals trying to help this little baby--- who just kept on crying.

But that particular day, C paged through that book after his nap and clearly became very upset by the baby crying.  I peeked in his room and saw him reading the book and saying, "Baby sad!  Baby want his mommy.  Where Baby's mommy? Baby sad!"  I thought it was cute, but a lump formed in my throat when big crocodile tears formed in his bright blue eyes.  I didn't know whether to laugh or tear up-- so I just sat and listened.  But soon it became clear that C was getting sadder at every page turn.  

I sat down next to him and said, "What's wrong Charlie?"

And then the dam broke.  Tears poured down his cheeks as he wailed, "Baby sad!  Baby want his mommy!  Baby not like the animals.  Where Baby's mommy?"  He jumped into my arms, wrapped his arms around my neck and just sobbed.  His body shook.  At first, I tried to soothe him, and then I realized that maybe he just needs a little cry (or sob).  So he clung to me and cried for awhile-- until that offer of playing outside sounded good enough.  Then I wiped his tears, grabbed his shoes, headed outside, and enjoyed the sunshine and the rest of the afternoon.  Maybe a good cry was all he really needed.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I'm tired

I'm tired of the whining.
I'm tired of the tattling.
I'm tired of the complaining, fighting, and bickering.

I'm tired of the stealing.
I'm tired of the bullying.
I'm tired of the eye-rolling, name-calling, and back-talking.

I'm tired of the lying.
I'm tired of the denying.
I'm tired of the teasing, refusing, and disrespecting.

It's May.
And I work in an elementary school.
So I'm just tired.

Don't worry, I still *like* my job.  But after almost nine months of continually trying to solve problems (most of which cannot be "solved"), I'm ready for a little break!  

Today is FRIDAY and then there are only fourteen more days of school!  (But who's counting?)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shoe Fettish

It's no secret.  I love shoes.  And apparently, so does my toddler.  But he loves MY shoes more than his own.  Lately, he will clomp around in any pair of shoes that I leave in his path.  So the day I unpacked my "summer shoes" and had several pairs lying around was like the best day ever for him. Don't you think?  They make us all so happy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Lost Tradition?

Yesterday was May 1.  When I was a kid, it was known as “May Day”.  I remember decorating and filling up “May Day Baskets” and then delivering them to my friends in the neighborhood.  Although I don’t remember it being a process, I’m sure it was.  Afterall, it involved creating some kind of vessel (some years they were more elaborate than others) to hold popcorn and other goodies.  Then, we piled our baskets into the little red wagon (when the spring weather was actually spring-like) or into the ol’ blue station wagon and delivered them to our friends. 

I was told that you deliver May Baskets to your friends as a welcome sign of spring.  You’re supposed to leave them hanging on the front door, ring the doorbell, and run away before they answer the door.  If your admirer sees you, they are encouraged to chase you and…. Give you a kiss!  (how scandalous!) 

Many people in this area have never heard of May Day—and very few still practice it.  According to what I’ve read on the internet, May Day began as a pagan holiday to celebrate the summer solstice.  Of course, the tradition changed with the spread of Christianity and May Day was even abolished in some European countries because of it’s secular roots.  Different European countries celebrate May Day in different ways but most celebrations or rituals involve flowers and ribbons—either in decorations, gifts, or shrines. 

Although I don’t know the entire history of May Day or the specific reasons we are supposed to give May Baskets to our friends and neighbors, I do know that I'm going to single-handedly bring back this tradition!  I'm bringing it back people!  Who doesn’t love a receiving a little “basket” (or Solo cup) filled with some yummies?  In our world, life just moves by so quickly & we're so wrapped up in our own little worlds—what a great excuse to go out of our way to drop off something nice for our friends. 

So yesterday afternoon, C and I decorated some green cups with stickers, poked pipe cleaners through some holes in the cups, and filled them with popcorn, M&M's, and a Tootsie pop.  We also decorated and attached a bright pink “card” to a straw and stuck it down into the cup.  Then, we drove to two different houses (both of C’s buddies have little baby brothers) and delivered our baskets.  Everyone loved them—and I’m pretty sure Charlie didn’t mind eating the left over popcorn either.