Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Day of School 2013- Teachers Gifts

This is an update to the Teacher's Gift from last year. The big jar was very popular so I thought I would do it again. This year both girls started school the same week so I made one for each teacher.
For F's preschool teacher
Here are the contents- pocket sized tissues, some post it notes, a packet of Airborne, a small box of Cepacol, hand sanitizer, a coffee cozy, a cooling scarf for hot days and a stripped scarf for the fall. 

For L's First grade teacher we made this one
So the girls loaded the jar with the goodies. They loved being part of the process.
Another first day of school is done!

Monday, August 19, 2013

And now we can see the start of the sequester's impact

The thing about early education is that it's impact is like an iceberg. You may see the smallest bit of it at the start but the true impact will go on and on.

Today on the radio I heard about all the children who will no longer have access to Head Start. It broke my heart. A generation of children are suffering from the unwillingness to compromise, our greed and need to war, and the mismanagement of our state and federal finances.

This breaks my heart. If we can not look after the least among us, our babies and youngest children, our elderly, those that are ill either physically or mentally, those that are hungry physically or mentally, what sort of society are we?

FIrst Day of School

Well, the new clothes are all washed and dried.
The backpack filled with the "donations" listed for 1st grade.
Lunch is made and waiting in the fridge.
Now my job is to be driver and cheerleader until 4:00 when I become tutor and coach.
Here is to the first day of school!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How you know your kids are smarter than you are....

Last night the 3yo and I were watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on cable. If you know my kids or have read my posts you will know that although this may seem a strange choice for your typical 3 year old, F is far too creepy to be bothered by this movie. Anyway, if you have seen it you will know the scene when Ron has been taken into a tunnel under the Whomping Willow by the black dog and Harry and Hermione follow them until they all arrive in the Shrieking Shack. At which point we finally meet Sirius Black. A few moment's later (sorry if this is a spoiler for someone in 2013, who has managed to avoid both the book and the movie) Peter Pettigrew is exposed. 

All of a sudden F starts in, "Mommy, who is that?" 

I reply, "Peter Pettigrew"

her, irritated, "Mommy, who is that MAN?"

me thinking (right, she has not read the books and we have seen these all out of order), "Honey, that is Peter Pettigrew, he is also Scabbers" 

F taking it to the next three levels of annoyed with me, "MOMMY, THE MAN. Who is he?" 
Me, "OK. Peter Pettigrew was a friend of Harry's mommy and daddy at school. Everyone thought he died the same night that they died.."

F cutting me off, "NO!" now pacing in front of the TV

Me totally confused, "Honey come sit with me and watch the movie, it's OK." who was I kidding? This kid was not worried about that guy or anyone else in the movie. 

Now she was standing in front of a book shelf, "Mommy I need the movie book!"

Me (tired after a long day), "F please come sit down. We are not changing movies now. I'm sorry if you are tired of this movie, we can turn it off and find something else to do, but..."
F, "MOMMY I need the book! That man is in this book!" 

Me finally starting to understand, "The man who plays Peter Pettigrew is in another movie?"
F with such relief, "YES!" 

So I take down the binder with all the kids DVD's in it and she begins to sort through the pages beginning with A Adams Family, The. 

F touching each DVD lightly with one index finger, "not this one, not this one, not this one"
when she reached E she said, "This movie mommy! That man is in this movie!" As I said she is 3 and not reading yet (even though she insists she can read many words including Exit and party on the boat) so I went over to look.

There she was with the book open to 

F "Mommy! He is in this movie! Mommy what is the name of this movie?"

Finally! I understood! Me to F, "That's Enchanted. Honey, you have seen this man from Harry Potter in this movie?"

"Yes! Yes! He is a bad man in this movie toooooo!" I figured she meant the spineless man servant who betrays the prince for the faux love of the queen and congratulated her on her ability to recognize the actor so quickly. 
This morning, just to be sure I checked on IMDB. Sure enough Timothy Spall is in both Harry Potter and Enchanted as well as several other children's movies.  

So there you have it. 3 years old and she is already more observant than her mother. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fall Lunch Review- Skull Sandwiches

My kids are creepy. I say it all the time and people think I am kidding. 
But I'm not! 

When L was old enough to walk and talk (about a year old) she would hide in our dark hall and wait to jump out at my husband and me. F loved to pretend to be a zombie at 18 months and was even happier when I would pretend that hordes of zombies were lumbering down our street toward the house. We would scream and point and run to hide. This is how my children have entertained themselves since they were old enough to do so. I guess it's in their DNA. 

Last October I made a different Halloween lunch each day. Toward the end of the month I decided to do a lunch for Dia de Los Muertos. 

I made the sandwiches out of the kids favorite, pb&honey and sealed the sandwiches with my Wonder Bread Sandwich Sealer N Decruster (it's awesome, I got it on a random isle at our local grocery store and the darn thing cost less than $5!) 

 So here was my Day of the Dead lunch for 2012. I used red and green food coloring mixed together to make the brown which I painted on the sandwich with a small water color brush freehand. The details were painted with orange and purple food coloring.
On the side I included a popcorn mix that my husband picked up at costco, I put some small skull candies into it to skull it up. I also included a tiny snickers bar and several apple slices that I partially skinned.
As I was posting this F said "Oh! Is that my lunch for tomorrow?" and requested another for tomorrow. Silly wabbit!

A Visitor for Bear Themed Lunch

One of our favorite books last year was A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker
It's a story about a bear who lives alone and is trying to make his breakfast. A mouse keeps showing up in his house asking for a cup of tea. It's a cute story about a creature living alone, stuck in a rut who learns to enjoy the company of someone else and to share his space and time with someone. 
Last school year I made a fairly simple bento lunch for my then 5 year old based on the book. 

As you can see it really isn't anything fancy. I used a bear cookie cutter for the main sandwich and a mouse for the second. Using construction paper, a toothpick and a marker I made the sign from the book.
Along with the sandwich I included cheddar bunnies (nearest I had to mice) a yogurt drink and sliced apple chips. It went over well. That is to say she ate her lunch. Not sure what else I can ask!

If you have young kids and don't know the book you should check it out at your local library or get yourself a copy on your favorite online retailer. It's a lot of fun to read.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A New School Year and My Philosophy on Gifts for Teachers and other School Staff

In a former life (from the age of 26 to 34) I worked at a school. I did many jobs in the school, I mean it, at one time I drove a van/mini bus shuttling students between campuses, I was the yard duty lady, one of the lunch ladies, I was a part time Art Teacher (you gotta work at a high school for that to be a full time job), the Activities Director, the Office Lady, and finally the Assistant Director. Im not giving you my resume here. Im telling you this because, even though I was not a student, I learned a lot working there. In the staff and teachers, the Director(s), the parents and students I found some amazing teachers.

This school where I worked was a bit of a posh private affair. The families came from the local community and the four corners of the earth. We welcomed students from all over the world on a regular basis and it was an amazing experience.

So. I didn't have kids at the time and frankly working with all those kids and their parents was an excellent birth control. But long before Pinterest or even Facebook I was building an idea of what I wanted my kids lunches to look like (Bento!) and what teacher gifts should be like. Our parents were so generous! If this is how educators are treated in other countries then we are really missing the boat. I came home with a car full of gifts every Christmas and a weeks worth at the end of the school year. We were not paid a lot by the school, but the students and parents showed us so much love daily and showered us with gifts on holidays, they unknowingly made up for it in a lot of ways.

My husband says Im nuts, that my expectations are out of whack. I don't know about that. What I know is this. There are people taking care of my kids. Heck, they are EDUCATING them. If I can't give them a little something special, not outrageous, just something that I have thought about and planned, if I can't take the time to show them how thankful I am to them, what's the point? Good Teachers put a lot of themselves into their work and I don't care how much they get paid, that pound of flesh they give to our future every day will never be fully paid back to them.

Last year my oldest daughter started Kindergarten at our local public school. This was a new experience for me. I mean, I attended public school from K-4th grade but that was a million years ago! I had only worked in the private schools so I had no idea what to expect. Thankfully the principal is fantastic and the office staff not only put up with my 1001 questions but they made us feel welcome.

Im not big into a lot of the trends to be frank I don't have the money or the time to go chasing whatever comes after birds or mason jars. However last fall I was well aware of the mason jar trend and saw this fantastic, and giant version at Target. I had been collecting items all summer to put into a basket for the start of school and I figured this would be a perfect receptacle.
The thing about this gift at least in my mind, is that the giant jar is a a gift in itself!
Here is a list of what I put in last year's jar.
two packs of scotch tape
cute pencils
hand sanitizer
various sizes and shapes of post it notes
small note cards
a small $ gift card
a note saying how excited we were to have her as L's teacher

Last year L's teacher was a runner so her gift card was from Jamba Juice.
My favorite color in all the world is orange so that was the color ribbon I used. I tried to put in items that she might need and would supply for the classroom herself.
Here is how it turned out-

It's not a full day pass to the local hot springs/spa or Nordstrom gift card but I thought it was a cute gift. The entire thing ran me about $35 including the $17 jar (from and the $5 gift card.

At some point I posted a picture of it on pinterest, that sucker has blown up in the last two months! I have watched in amazement as it went from 0 re-pins in June to over 100 last week. Seems there are enough people out there who feel the way I do. Im glad to know they are there!

This year I went out and got two of the jars and I'm doing a slightly different version for F and L's teachers. Watch this space and find out how it went!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Creepy Stuff

Sometimes you just have got to embrace your creepy side. This week I'm traveling for work and some of the time we are spending in an old house. This afternoon we were allowed to explore and I found this extra creepy attic room. 
So naturally I sat in it!
While I was sitting there a couple of interns wandered by and about peed their pants. It was the highlight of my day, maybe my week! #realamericanhorrorstory