Saturday, August 31, 2013

Double Trouble Back to School

It's Saturday night and Pepper is watching Prince of Egypt with the Littles.

At one point, I said to The Blitz, "Do you want me to make y'all some popcorn, honey?"
"Yes, Mom, because "Mo-sep" is boring."
"Sweetie, it's "MOSES"; he's a real person from the Bible."
"Okay, Mom, well Mo-SIS is boring too."

Oh goodness.  The last of my peeps headed off to school this week, The Blitz and The Captain. (Sunshine is still on break until next week and homeschoolers technically don't head off to school). I have put off writing this post while being daunted by the production of 6 or 7 lunches every day at 6:00 a.m. My plan worked well, though, so each week will get easier.

I only cried a little -- and surprisingly not over The Blitz. It was The Captain; he looked so sad and overwhelmed when I left him for Kindergarten - the Sequel, with his new teacher, Ms. Warner. I tried to get us off on the right foot by walking him to school, which he loves, but it didn't do it. He was quite reluctant the next day, too, when we walked to the bus stop two lots away. While we waited for the bus, he hung his head and stared at his feet and when the bus arrived, he was teary-eyed. I felt terrible. But by the end of the day, he seemed happy and has been less reluctant with each day. He has two issues: He has to make all new friends, and he figured out his friends went to first grade. He is feeling shame about it and that is sad. I do not regret holding him back as I know it is the best for him but I am sorry for his hurt feelings!

The Blitz has been pretty wary of going to school, thinking it was just a trick to take him to day care (which he really did not enjoy). He goes at 11:30 so the first day, I put him in the car and drove him over there and when we pulled up in front of the school, he said, "Hey, this is Old Town Edementry" and then laughed out loud. He has been all smiles since and his only complaint is that he has to wait "too long" each day to go.  One day I'd been in appointments all day so picked up the boys from school 20 minutes early and he cried, angry at me for not letting him finish the day. Oh, the trials of Pre-K. ( Oh and of course he wouldn't look at the camera!)

I think it will be a good year for both of them. Their teachers are very sweet and they are already both getting into the rhythm of school; I am getting into the swing of things too and I feel much less stressed about the upcoming week than I did the last.

Next week when Sunshine starts, I will try for another Fab Five pic; for now, we're still stuck with the iPod photos as my new flash drive is lost in transit.  Cheers.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cook Ahead Day and Back to School Menu Planning

Yesterday we had evening church planned, so I was able to rise early and get to the grocery store before the rest of the city. I came home with a stack of "cook ahead" ingredients to get a head start on the week. Sorry about the pics -- still no flash drive for my camera so iPod it is!

I started out making this beautiful breakfast I found on Pinterest.  It was very pretty and had eggs instead of butter (like most pull-apart). We used a cup of cooked sausage leftover from Pepper's breakfast burrito cook-ahead project a couple of days ago.  We enjoyed it with a fruit salad.

This would not be "everyday" food for us, as we're not that into canned biscuits, but it would be great company food because it sure is fast and easy.  I wonder if it would work just as well with my homemade biscuit recipe?

My next project was to poach chicken breasts, which I cooled and diced.  I put 2 into 3-oz packs for Pepper and I for quick lunches and froze the rest in 1.5# packages for a quick addition to dinners.

I prepped some celery for the week -- sticks for the kids and dice for recipes. I sauted and froze some of the dice. Today I will separate the grapes and grape tomatoes into snack size bags for fast access.

We made Cherry No-Bake Granola bars.  My basic recipe originated here, but of course, I've Tischler-ized it. My version is on Spark Recipes. If you've never made your own granola bars, do try them. These are so fast - they take minutes  - and you can customize them to your taste. If you use my recipe, make sure you like the taste of roasted sesame before you add it, because it's a prevalent flavor. We eat it a lot on our Japanese foods so we all are used to it but I would think some kids, especially, might not care for the strong flavor. You can leave it out with no ill effect. (36 bars per pan, 5 WW Points +)

We will have our favorite bento on Tuesday, Turkey, Carrot and Egg Soboro.  I cooked all the parts except the egg part so tomorrow's assembly will be super quick.

Our last bit of fun for the morning was putting together our favorite fruit snacks made of (get this) actual dried fruit.  This version is strawberries, papaya, kiwi, pineapple and tart cherries. As we were making it, the Blitz said, "This isn't really fruit snack, it's "Fruit-tastic."  We all decided that was a perfect name for our favorite fruit snacks and we'll be calling it that hence forth.

I am trying to keep adding to our prepared foods so that each week's lunches and snacks are easier .

Here's the plan for the week:
Lunch: Pizza, grape tomatoes, cuties
Dinner: Chicken Yakisoba, cucumbers

Lunch: Turkey, Carrot, Egg and Green Bean Soboro bento

Dinnner: Asian Salad

Lunch: Boiled egg, "Kids sushi" sandwiches, apple
Dinner:  Root hog! (Everyone eats from the larder or leftovers)

Lunch: (Kids eat school lunch today)
Dinnner: Black beans and Rice on bed of baby spincah

Lunch: (Whatever I can dig up!)
Supper: Three cheese potato tacos, iceberg salad

Can't think ahead to the weekend. Have a great week!

PS - forgot to mention I'm joining Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday Link-up!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Senior Girl!

Oh, my goodness, the water-works have started!  Am I going to be bawling all year?  Pepper is a Senior. She was born half-grown but how did the time go so fast?

She has been such a huge help all spring and summer with the new job and all the heart stuff -- I can't even begin to tell you. For instance, Friday she went to the grocery store because I couldn't bear to do it the night before since I hadn't seen the Littles all day. Then she came home, put it all away, and baked carrot cake muffins to freeze for the school year. She topped this off by making the best cheesy enchiladas (low fat, thanks so much) and a black-bean confetti salad. It was so wonderful to come home from 10 hours on my feet to this beautiful meal.

 So she's back to Gateway today. We did a good job documenting our resources and her learning so they accepted all her homeschool credits and she is on the same path as all the other seniors. There are several kids still there she knows and her two favorite teachers. We also got the word that she gets to take two art classes so that's a joy.

To boot she did well on her SATs and will be taking the ACT soon. We are about to send off her application to her first choice university and hope for a great scholarship so she can go to this amazing school.

To make her return to school even more exciting, she just bought her first car! We helped her of course and Grandma helped a lot but she made a good and frugal choice, an older Hyundai Accent. So proud of the young woman she is. Oh and it's a standard so she had to learn how to manage that. She caught on quickly and took me on a very smooth ride tonight.

The pictures are a little blurry because I need a memory stick for the camera and these were on my iPod. But enjoy them anyway!

Monday, August 12, 2013


Today's the day. Tinkerbelle starts Kindergarten and Meridian. She is elated. There are two things Tinker loves: 1) Learning, and (2) Structure.

Last night, just to be sure, she asked 5 or 6 times, "It's my first day of school tomorrow, right, Mom? Just me and nobody else, right? I'm going to learn reading and math and everything, right Mom? I eat lunch there, right?"

Pepper gave her a haircut and we laid out all her clothes. Then, just before bed, after I told her I'd see her on her first day of school, she said, "Okay, Mom, can you wake me up at 3:30 so I have plenty of time to get ready?"

I said "Yes" but opted for 6:30 instead.

Look out world, here she comes! She'll be running that school in a month.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


School is about to start. Oh my gosh I feel giddy just saying it. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my kids. As a mama who has homeschooled a couple for 12 years (and counting), I do not mind spending time with my kids. I really really enjoy my kids, but I am becoming a terrible parent.

It just that  .  . . how do I say this . . . I really need to go "potty." I need 5 uninterrupted minutes of complete privacy in my day. Seriously people I am losing  my mind. 

I am out of ideas too. It's been a really hot month and sending the kids outside is akin to child abuse. So most of the day we entertain them indoors. I can not think of anything else to do. No kidding.

I cannot swim one more time in the neighborhood pool which --because it is so blasted hot out -- is roughly the temperature of pee.  It's super creepy. And it's not refreshing. And also - yes I'm venting -- I cannot bear hearing 50 kids yelling, "Look at me, Mom" any more.  And weirdly it's my kids saying it that bugs me the most.  We ARE LOOKING at you! TRUST ME! That's why you're not drowning, you crazy nut. Why do you think I keep saying, "Walking please," "No diving, jumping only,'' "Don't hold your brother's head underwater, sweetie," etc.?  It's because I'm LOOKING at you.  Seriously.

I cannot paint anymore. I hid all the paints and claimed we ran out. Ditto the scissors.  I cannot make any more "healthy" dips to entice them to eat healthy food. Yesterday I whipped up a batch of "cake dip," threw the animal crackers on the table and told them to "have at it." It may or may not have been breakfast time. I plead the fifth.

Our reading lessons have fallen by the wayside because, frankly, I have lost my patience. By the time I get to the third child who cannot remember what sound "t" makes, instead of patiently making the sound, I dramatically throw down the book and begin crying.  No, I don't really do that. But I really, really want to. I suspect they sense my impatience. That may be why The Blitz when he hears "reading time" starts yelling, "I don't want to be third, I don't want to be third." Lucky for him neither of his older siblings know what "third" means.

Yesterday Sunshine had to watch them all day because I did not have child care set up and I had to work.  Since she spends so much time in the hot sun playing softball I decided to offer her a reprieve and told her to let them stay in all day and rot their minds with television. One day won't kill off too many brain cells, right?  So when I finally got home after taking Tink to "meet the teacher" and then an emergency trip to Sam's for TP and 90 pounds of fruit, the boys begged me to finish watching the movie with them. I mumbled something about laundry and ran off, fast.

I cannot watch one more Disney movie.  No I am not exaggerating. I did not know I could be such a cynic. I am starting to criticize the heroes and heroines. What is up with Ariel's hair? I know she lives underwater and all but she really needs a new hairdresser.  What's up with Buzz Lightyear?  How dumb can an astronaut actually be? Everyone knows dummies don't make it through the Air Force Academy and into NASA. The way the prince in Aladdin begins the movie with racial slurs about the barbarism of his own homeland. My new favorite artist is Jon Cozart because of his portrayal of Disney Princesses. Yes, I have watched way too many movies this summer.  I also cannot eat any more popcorn. I think I have scraped my insides clean.

So I'm giddy. Giddy with joy and excitement. I have sold out folks. My only goal now is to potty in private and have the floor clean for one hour.  I'm not at all phased by having 4 kids in three different schools. That has to be easy compared to summer. I do not care that I have so far plunked down $150 for uniforms and $120 for supplies (and know I'm not done yet).  Worth  . . . every . . . penny.

 Tinker starts school Monday - kindergarten already Tater starts school on the 19th. She's excited for a senior year in "real" school. Gateway is thrilled to have her back.  The Blitz goes to Pre-K and The Captain back to Kinder on the 26th.  Sunshine will not start homeschooling 10th grade until September 6. We're going to soak in the quiet for a couple of weeks first.

And then, I'll probably cry.