Thursday, January 26, 2012

Update: 100 Math Facts Test

You may recall that at our last parent-teacher conference, there was concern about the upcoming 100 math facts test.  In this timed test, the second graders must complete 100 adding facts in five minutes or less.  I was surprised and completely ecstatic when the results came home.

I checked with Ehren, "Did you do this test with a timer, in five minutes?" Then I double-checked with his teacher too. Yes, it was really true. Christian completed over 80% of the test in time allotted.  That wasn't too shabby either. At our parent-teacher conference this week, I found out they just completed another similar test, and both boys got A's on that one.  I'll be looking forward to seeing that test come home in their folders! More positive things to dwell on.  Now I'm not as apprehensive about the 100 subtraction facts test later this year.  They get six minutes on that one!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Under Construction

You might have noticed I've started some renovations on my blog:

1.)  My blog is now officially instead of

2.) I have a new header, which is definitely a work-in-progress.  I love the graphics I bought from Mye De Leon.

3.) Sometime soon, I'll be migrating those annoying food posts to a new food blog that I'm starting with my sister.  Then those of you who just want to hear about the family won't have to be bothered with my own, personal recipe book in progress.  I'll provide more details on that at a later time (which, at the rate I've been blogging lately, might be awhile).

Thanks so much for your comments and for following along. 


Desperate for Green

Ah what I won't do for a little bit of fresh, green goodness during a Minnesota winter... like potting fresh grocery store herbs meant to be eaten.  Yes, my friends, these were spendy bedding plants.

I bought these large white ceramic pots from Ikea for $2.99 each (the same price as those ridiculous herbs).

Then off I went to the shore of our backyard pond to scrape up a few shovelfuls of pea gravel from under the snow.  Are you picturing me out there, scraping in the snow, suburban neighbors wondering if maybe I need one of these sun lamps for S.A.D. (maybe I do)?   After my snowy trek, I lined the bottom of the pots with the rock for drainage.

I lucked out and found one proper basil plant in the floral section of my local grocery store.  What a beauty.  Now I'm just hoping these little guys will survive, especially the thyme, so I can use it for my broccoli soup!

Wonderful Things, Like Friends with Quirks

When you have kids who randomly say or do quirky things, there is never time to explain the whole situation to strangers.  You just have to suck it up and move on.  About a week ago, the boys and I were walking into the hockey rink to watch Anna.  As we passed by a man with the perfect big round belly, Christian put up his fists and started making punching motions at the man's stomach, complete with boxing sound effects.  I think I grabbed Christian before he actually touched the guy, and the guy laughed.  On the outside I was laughing with him, but on the inside, I was mortified.  Filters, I tell you.  Filters.  Can we get some filters here?

So on Sunday, when we spent a great day together with some distant cousins, one of whom is a ten year old with Aspergers, it was such a relief.  I didn't need to come armed with explanations. Cousin T is very cool kid, and I had a silent mom chuckle over his astute observation at dinner:  "I think Ehren and I are really going to get along. He likes Pokemon, chocolate milk, and he's kind of hyper, just like me!" There was a lot of Pokemon talk thrown about at the dinner table, and I think the girls were a little lost {frankly, so was I}. 

Later when we were saying our good-byes, cousin T asked his parents if he could spend the whole summer in Minnesota so he could get a season pass to Valleyfair.  From what I've heard, cousin T is a math genius (like his dad) and I think he may have been doing some mental calculations on what a great deal a season pass is, especially if you went everyday!  Meanwhile, no-filters Christian hugged cousin T good-bye, and in his enthusiam, added a kiss on the cheek. Thankfully, it didn't seem to phase him. Later that night when I had my hundredth chat with Christian about how we only kiss our moms and dads, not anyone else, he said, "Mom, I didn't kiss him. I just hugged him!"  But he did. I was there.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lunch Box Superfood

Hot lunch is served only once a week at my kids' school, so I'm always working to dream up easy, nutritious lunch ideas that they'll eat.  One of my favorite lunches is a chicken salad packed with protein, fruit and veggies.  It's like a meal-in-one for lunch!  Let's break it down.


3 ribs of celery
1 large apple or 2 small apples
handful of baby spinach
handful of craisins
handful of slivered almonds
canned chicken breast (12.5 oz) or leftover cooked chicken (chopped)
1/2 cup mayonaise

One of the kitchen gadgets I value most is our apple slicer.  We use it all the time, so much in fact, that this is my third one.  I've broken inexpensive ones and expensive ones alike, so now I just buy the economy model. One of these days, I'll find an uncrackable, all-metal model at a garage sale.  I buy organic apples and leave the peeling on because that's where the majority of the nutrients are. 

Slice the apple, celery and spinach.  I buy the jumbo box of organic baby spinach from Costco, and I sneak its green goodness into recipes as often as I can.  To slice the baby spinach, roll the leaves like you're rolling a cigar and cut the rolled bundle into thin ribbons.

In a mixing bowl, shred the chicken with a fork.   Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

For lunch boxes, spoon into thermal containers and refrigerate overnight. 

Or simply serve it up and enjoy immediately!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kindness and Twin Secrets

Today the kids were starting to get at each other in the van, so we started a silence contest.  Christian was out first after making shooting noises as we passed a field full of wild turkeys.  Anna, my little chatterbox, can hardly stand to be silent, so she was out next after she blurted, "Hey Mom, look..." about something she saw out the window. 

Unfortunately, the anger and crying from the losers over the "unfairness" of the silence contest was almost worse than the chaos that preceded it.  Christian tried to blame Ehren because Ehren was "hunting" the turkeys with his finger, so he "started it."  Anna said it wasn't fair that I eliminated time-outs during this contest because how was she supposed to tell me important things?  With the blaming and the excuses, the worst of human nature was on display.  

Despite all the dissention in the van, Ehren stayed silent all the way home.  When we pulled into the garage, he got his prize, a Tic Tac, which he promptly gave to Anna to comfort her.  When we got in the house, he asked me if there was anything he could do to earn another treat (yes, we still have Halloween candy).  In my mind, I was questioning his motives a little.  I thought, maybe he didn't like the Tic Tac and gave it to Anna so he could get something different.  Anyway, I told him he could go vacuum his bedroom if he wanted to earn another treat.  Meanwhile, Christian was adamant that he didn't want to go outside to play until Ehren went outside, so he sat on the couch while Ehren vacuumed upstairs.  Ehren finished the job and chose a small box of Nerds out of the treat bucket.  He walked right over to Christian and handed him the Nerds. 

Apparently while they were walking into the house, Ehren secretly told Christian that he would get a treat for him, and he even asked him what kind he wanted.  Ehren is so much like his dad in this way.  He doesn't comfort with words, but with deeds.   I don't know how they secretly worked out these details in the seconds it took to get from the van to the house, but it was a good ending to a bad car ride.  

Lest you think only Ehren is the thoughtful one, Christian chose Nerds because he could share them with Ehren and Anna.  Sometimes the kids' kindness to each other catches me at the most unexpected moments.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year

Last night, we were invited to our friends' house to share a wonderful fondue dinner.  As we ate, giant snowflakes fell and turned our brown Christmas into a white New Year.  After dinner, the kids went outside to build snow forts and snowmen.  Conveniently, our friends are also our neighbors, so a little before midnight, we made the short trip home, changed into pajamas, and snuggled in to welcome the new year as a family.  This is the first year our kids have stayed up until midnight.   Here we are with the clock in the background as proof.

We each said a prayer for the new year and turned out the lights.  It was a wonderful way to welcome 2012.  Happy New Year!