19. April 2013 23:16
When it comes to cooking, I'm kind of a geek. So when I needed to purchase some items in bulk for an upcoming school event, I welcomed the chance to explore the local restaurant-supply store.
While I stuck to the shopping list for the event, I wasn't above browsing in the name of research. I know I'll be going back to stock my own kitchen and pantry.
The store had everything a baker or cook could want: huge sacks of flour, sugar and rice; giant cans of spaghetti-sauce ingredients, and spices in generously-sized jars.
I'll admit, I was tempted by one thing: the enormous jug of sprinkles.
Eleven is a big fan of sprinkles. He likes them on everything from cookies to ice cream to pancakes, yogurt and even oatmeal!
But 3 pounds of sprinkles is a LOT of sprinkles. Frankly, I was kind of afraid that if I brought a container of sprinkles that big into my house, the Kid would start eating them with a spoon. So, for now, the sprinkles stayed on the shelf.
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17. April 2013 03:59
Today's Wall Street Journal featured an article (with an accompanying video) discussing some toy manufacturers' attempts to interest girls in science and building by selling pink-and-purple versions of their regular line of toys.
The rationale seems to be that girls wouldn't choose to play with building toys unless they're "girly." And if girls don't play with building toys, they won't develop the spatial skills that are the foundations for careers in science, technology, engineering or math.
I'm not sure I buy that theory, for a few reasons. When I was growing up, I had LEGOs. They were mostly red and white, with a few of other colors thrown in. There might have been a propeller and maybe a window or two. There were no tiny little people, no propellers, no bicycles. If you wanted accessories for your LEGO creation, you built it--out of LEGOs. As a parent (and a former kid) I am a huge fan of building toys of all kinds, including train tracks. And, for the record, my spatial skills are way better than my husband's.
My graduate degree is in English literature. My husband holds advanced degrees in computer science and business. But when it's time to pack the car for vacation, assemble furniture or program the VCR, guess who gets the job?
Maybe it's because of my Pre-Bachelor's Degree in LEGO. Even though I didn't have a single pink one in the bunch.
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10. April 2013 07:54
When it's 65 degrees at 6 AM and threatening to hit a record high of 87-plus by afternoon, and your child's school is not air-conditioned, would you dress her in tights, a skirt, a long-sleeved blouse and a sweater vest and send her off to sweat her way through the day?
That's what my daughter's high school is expecting that we do. Boys have to wear long pants, dress shirts, ties and sweaters. Despite the fact that temperatures can (and often do) exceed 80 degrees in April around here, they have to wear their Winter Uniforms until May 1. That's three weeks away.
I wouldn't want to be a teacher in that school during the next 3 weeks. The atmosphere will be cranky...and ripe.
There is a summer uniform option, which lets the kids wear short-sleeved golf shirts and the girls wear socks rather than tights--but that uniform may not be worn until May 1.
In the meantime, we're praying that a cold front comes through.
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9. April 2013 07:12
This morning I was the substitute teacher for the elementary school's combination librarian-computer teacher and multitasker extraordinaire. I knew that the day would start off easy, because the second grade was coming in.
I see this class every Friday when I volunteer at school. They're a really sweet bunch of kids, and their teacher has a very calming way about her. She doesn't raise her voice, but her gentle manner keeps the kids in line and on track.
This morning when they came into the computer room, they were louder and more excited than they usually are. The teacher explained that there had been a wasp in the classroom, and before it managed to find its way out the window, the kids had gotten pretty stirred up. I commiserated by sharing the story of my first substitute-teaching experience.
I think I was still in college, and I was standing in for a third-grade teacher. When I arrived, the principal directed me straight to the playground where I picked up my class. Everyone lined up and filed into the classroom and began getting their backpacks unpacked.
"The fish is dead!" cried the kids who were assigned to care for the class pet that week.
The girls shrieked. The boys, on the other hand, were excited, in a gruesome kind of a way. I had at least seven little boys surrounding my desk, all asking at once, "Can I flush it?"
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7. April 2013 07:44
I've been on vacation for several days--and for the past three days, I've been recovering from that vacation. More accurately, I'm recovering from the trip home.
After a couple of relaxing days visiting Florida's Gulf Coast, we arrived at the airport by 5:30 for a 7:55 flight. We made our way through the security checkpoints, rolling our eyes at the sign that listed "shoes" as one of the things that can cause a delay in the TSA screening process.
Really? We should leave our shoes at home?
Everybody passed inspection without incident, and after we put our shoes back on, we settled down to wait for our airplane. Looking at the screen announcing departure times, we discovered that our plane would be delayed. We figured it might be due to a snowstorm in western Virginia, but soon an announcement over the PA system informed us that our plane was in Louisville, with mechanical difficulties.
Our 8 PM departure was pushed to midnight.
The kids bought a deck of cards and settled in for a long evening of Solitaire, War, and Go Fish over by the TSA benches (where you get to put your shoes back on. You know, the ones that will delay your screening.)
Our flight home arrived sometime around 2 AM, and then we had to retrieve our luggage and our van from the airport parking lot. Then there was a 2-hour drive home. I think we rolled in at 4:45 AM. I'm still trying to get my sleep schedule back on track.
I still can't get over that sign about the shoes. I wore clogs, so it only took me a second to slip them on and off. Need a new pair of slip-ons before your next plane trip? Use coupon code SCHOOLSPR to get FREE shipping on Color-Popped styles at Sperry Top-Sider, through April 8, 2013!
29. March 2013 04:03
Now that the "Sweet 16" round of NCAA basketball is underway, it's time to check out your brackets. How's yours looking? Mine is fit for the pile of kindling for the firepit, and not much else.
Eleven has been gleefully reminding me that all of his Final Four picks are still in contention (as of this writing).
He's not only keeping track of his own picks, but monitoring things for his friends--and his friends' siblings. One of his classmates has a sister in pre-Kindergarten who chose Florida Gulf Coast University to win it all. Ten days ago, my kid thought that was pretty hilarious.
Who's laughing now?
Regardless of the winners of the games and the bracket competitions, hoops fans are the real winners here--we're getting to see some amazing basketball games. Any team who made it into the Big Dance this year can justifiably be very proud.
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Or you could come here, and we'll all set fire to our brackets together.
25. March 2013 23:42
With a long history of dental work behind me, I've been through more than my share of dentists. Usually I break up with them because they're pushy about trying to sign me up for even MORE work, usually of a cosmetic nature, which is a hard sell to a woman who'd rather live with a little discomfort for years on end than sit in a dentist's chair for a couple of hours.
My last dentist wasn't like that, and I appreciated that about her. But there were other things going on that eventually led me to sever the relationship.
Like the time I showed up to have a cavity filled on the Friday before Halloween, and everyone who worked in the office was dressed up like characters from The Wizard of Oz. I don't care how cute you are in that tiara, dressing as Glinda, the Good Witch from the North, is going to destroy your credibility when it comes to cavities.
Or the many times I've spent weeks nursing a sore tooth after the work was done--a tooth that hadn't hurt a bit before she drilled into it.
Or all the times my husband has had an appointment and the office staff calls the house 20 minutes before his appointment time to ask if he's going to be there. My husband works 50 miles from home. Traffic happens. They do this EVERY time he has an appointment.
Or the time when the dentist had just seen all 3 of my kids for an X-ray and cleaning. Then it was my turn. Her idea of "making conversation" (while her hands were poking around in my mouth with pointy, sharp things) was to ask me if all of my kids were from the same marriage. Sure, they're spread out in age, but they've all got the same last name that looks more like a typographical error to anyone uninitiated in Polish phonetics, and they all look alike--and none of them looks like me!
To my former dentist: it's not me. It's you.
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25. March 2013 06:41
I'm a basketball fan. It's a fast-paced game and fun to watch. And with a young sports fan in the house, we enjoy a little friendly competition over our March Madness brackets when the NCAA tournament rolls around.
I generally don't do very well with my bracket picks, and this year is no exception, but there's one school I haven't been wrong about yet: LaSalle University.
This makes me happy because my older son goes there. I've been asking him for three years to take me to a basketball game, and it hasn't happened yet. I think he'd only watched one or two games in the three years he's been there. That all changed this week when LaSalle made it into the Big Dance. Everyone on campus was watching the games--hoops fans or not. Last night after the team squeaked out a win to make it into the Sweet Sixteen, my son said that everyone on campus erupted onto the street. So many were on the street, in fact, that the intersection was completely shut down.
They probably made the traffic report on the local news-radio station. Traffic every 10 minutes, 'round the clock...at 10 PM on Sunday night, where else would there be traffic?
LaSalle's success makes me happy, but it also makes me sad. You see, their next game is Thursday night. There are no classes Friday, and my son would have come home Thursday in time for dinner. But now he's staying on campus an extra night, because all his friends are going to watch the game together.
If he knows what's good for him, he'll bring me a T-shirt. But whether or not he brings me any fangear, I'll be happy when he gets home.
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image credit: LaSalle University
22. March 2013 07:31
Last night we headed over to the school, tray of brownies in hand, for the end-of-basketball-season awards night. It was 35 degrees when we left the house. I was wearing jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, a sweater, a jacket and gloves.
The Kid wore a t-shirt, sweat shirt, and basketball shorts. This, despite the nearly-freezing weather and the slim likelihood that any basketball would be played at this event.
Getting into the car, he commented, "It's cold in here."
You don't say.
I've given up trying to get him to wear a jacket (or long pants), although I do occasionally wonder that his teachers might call Child Protective Services to report me for neglect. He's a bright kid--so if he can't figure out by this time that when the temperature hovers around the freezing mark, it's cold outside and a coat would be a good idea, then he'll just have to shiver until he gets the message.
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19. March 2013 13:09
When is the best time to do a science-fair experiment?
If you're my fifth-grader, it's at 4:30 in the afternoon of the day before the experiment log is due, on the same day when your mom had insomnia the night before and is running on too little sleep and too much caffeine and has spent half the day in meetings.
That means that the chances of someone screwing up the experiment are fairly high. Especially when it's a Kitchen Science experiment, involving swapping out one ingredient for another in a cookie recipe.
I'm all for making my kids do their schoolwork themselves, but this experiment involved the use of an oven, and I'm not ready to turn Eleven loose on my kitchen quite yet. I set out all the ingredients and equipment and showed him how to measure flour properly and set him to work. But I failed to remember that "1 cup butter, cut into 8 pieces" does not mean "1 stick butter, cut into 8 pieces."
The cookies were edible, but we didn't get the expected result in the experiment, which means I have to invest more ingredients (but less time, now that he knows what to do) in this project.
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