Friday, December 3, 2010

Hiatus. . . gap. . .interval. . . pause

Call it what you will. I have been gone from this blog a looooooong time. None of the title words totally describes my lack of attention to blogging but it's the best I can do.

Today is really the first time in a long time that I have had time and the mental energy to write anything.

I definitely underestimated the impact starting a new job would have on my life. And I don't mean that in a bad way-it has just been very different. The whole family has adjusted to a new routine, mainly because my hours changed so drastically from last year. I have to be at work by 7:30 and finish at 1:45. I actually really like this change-I am not responsible for the morning rush at all (thanks honey!!!) and get to work early and actually have some time there to get stuff done. However, I do take care of the afternoons (carpool, dinner, gymnastics, etc.) and that means that by 7:00 I am ready to go to bed. Don't tell anyone but sometimes I actually do! That's what happens when your day starts at 5 or 5:30!

So I have never been one for easy adjustments and this is no exception. Additionally, I have been learning the ropes of my new school. Even though my job description is the same, it's kind of like starting from scratch with new people and some different expectations. I also have been doing a lot more work at home (darn these long IEP's). I also have to write these documents for a new population for me-what we call non-attending students. Which is exactly what it sounds like-students that do not attend my school but they do attend a private school in the area. I could go on and on about this, but I don't want to bore anyone with the details. It is just a lot of paperwork for a student I don't know or service in any way. It is making me a little bitter especially because I actually like to teach (imagine that!!!) and all the paperwork and meetings take away from that.

Enough about work. What else is new in my life? I have been reading a lot lately, anything and everything I can get my hands on. I just discovered Half-price books and sold a ton of books so I could buy more :). I made $12! I actually finished the trilogy by Suzanne Collins starting with The Hunger Games and all of them were amazing. And I don't say that lightly (I don't usually like to read young adult books or fantasy so it started with 2 strikes against it). I was totally enthralled and engrossed! I would definitely recommend it!!

So that's the latest update hopefully, I will be better at blogging!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Catching up

Isn't it always like this-weeks of boring nothing and then BAM, in the course of a few hours CHAOS!!?

How does the expression go, "Man plans and G-d laughs?"

That kind of sums up my life right now.

Let me give a little backstory. Everyone knows that I am a special ed teacher. Well, about a year ago an assistant principal at my school became a principal of another school. And this year a teacher I worked very closely with left my school to become the AP(assistant principal) of said same school. Being close with this teacher we talked often and she would jokingly tell me that she wanted me to come work with her at her new school. I listened and ignored. It was flattering but she wasn't serious and I wasn't looking for a new job.

Well, fast forward a few months to the beginning of August. She calls me to tell me that a position opened in her school and they want me. Not only do they want me but the job is mine if I want it. No interview, nothing.

What?????? I didn't believe what I was hearing. It was so completely unexpected- every time she spoke of a "job" I thought she was just joking or being nice and trying to make me feel good.

To make matters more complicated I was leaving on vacation in 2 days (driving across the country) and needed to make Shabbos (we were leaving right after) and barely anything was ready. Also, it is August and that is late to change jobs in the education world. So I really didn't have time to think about it long.

Can we say anxiety producing?

Many people tried to give me lots of good advice-make a pros/cons list, pretend you make a choice and see how you feel BUT I just don't seem to work that way. I go with my gut. I mean, I do think about all the details and talk it out obessively, but at the end of the day, it seems to be about how I feel. Except in this situation both choices made me feel bad.

Let me explain. Both choices were good choices. My old job has a lot of great people to work with. I know everyone and almost all the kids. I have pretty good bosses and some really great friends. And though there are always things to complain about (and I DID complain this past year), I wasn't looking to change things. And the new job? Bosses who are friends. Bettter hours. A different population of student. However, there are also teachers I dont' know and it is slightly farther away than my current school. So, how do I pick?

At the end of the day a few things helped me decide.

1. I needed to do what was best for my family and changing my hours could really help us (and erev Shabbos).

2. Although I detest change, it wouldn't be completely different as I will be doing the same type of job and working with people I already know. In fact, my friend who is also AP is still teaching and I will be teaching with her. I already know we work well together. Which is an extremely important part of what I do (inclusion/co-teaching and all that).

3. THEY WANT ME. I have worked in both of these teachers/principals classrooms without trying to impress them (back when they were just teachers). They have seen the real me on my best days and worst days. And they STILL want me. They know what I do and what my job description entails and they know that I work my butt off to help my students. It is nice to feel appreciated professionally and know that they WANT to hear what I have to say. Because, let's face it-no one wants to hear about special ed. We're always an afterthought. Not complaining, that's just the way it is in the world. That's the way I feel at my current job. They like that I don't make problems for them, that I take care of things on my own, but they don't know what I really do or the problems that I face on a daily basis.

So I took the new job. And I'm scared, nervous and full of anxiety. Not very fun for a vacation. But it's done and I do feel like I made the right choice. Especially since I called my current principal and she was RUDE to me. I mean, I expected her not to be happy but she bordered on disrespectful. I'll spare everyone the details I have never experienced that from her and I am not looking forward to packing up my room and having to face her. But I guess I need to be an adult about it.

And the more I think about it the more I think that Hashem puts me in these situations to learn and grow from them. I will pretty much do anything I can to not have to face change in my life. I don't change the furniture in my house often, I don't like surprises, and I certainly don't like to change jobs. But this will be the 4th school I have worked in in 10 years. And that's because of my choice, NOT the other way around. And so I think that each time I choose change I grow and learn more about myself. And truthfully, I have emunah (faith) in Hashem that either choice I choose will be ok.

Really that's all I need to remember.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer so far. . .

Soooooo, I've been working this summer. Teaching 14 early childhood special ed kids. Talk about different than what I'm used to. It is not easy to maintain any sort of order in a classroom like that. I am in awe of teachers that do it all year long. The kids are cute, except for when they aren't. Like the boy that screams loudly all day long. Or the boy that is in everybody else's business and tattletales non-stop. Or the girl that already has an attitude at 5 years old. But it is wonderful to see them make friends, use new words and learn how to write their names. And they hug you and tell you that they love you. I certainly don't get that with the middle schoolers! And since I haven't taught that age group in a while, it was a little stressful doing something new. But now I'm done!! And I feel like I have the presence of mind to blog.

So here's some pics of the summer so far. . .

Little T's graduation from kindergarten

These were at Wagner Farm. A historic farm with some animals. The kids absolutely loved it.

I broke down and bought a pool for the backyard on the 4th. They have had so much fun using it and the hose. And I even got a little tan! Some of the garden is in the background. We now have radishes, peas, and lettuce growing in addition to our cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet), cabbage, and leeks.

Our last meat meal before the 9 days. Eating outside with the kids was great-they could be loud and messy and it didn't matter. Delicious Israeli food-didn't even have any leftovers.

Doesn't look so exciting but it is: the first tomatoes and basil from the garden. With some fresh mozzarella. Absolutely delicious.

I am looking forward to not working!!! Later this summer, we'll be on the East Coast and we are really excited about that. Hopefully, this heat wave will break and we can spend some more time outside again.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Books I've read recently

I know everyone is just on the edge of their seats waiting to hear about the books I've read.

Here they are:

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

2. The Girl from Foreign by Sadia Shepard

3. Blame by Michelle Huneven

4. A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

I am having a memory lapse-there was another book I wanted to put here and I can't remember it. I guess I need to start writing titles down!

I tried to read A Separate Country by Robert Hicks and gave myself permission to stop. Didn't like it and my reading time is too precious to waste on a boring book. It just didn't draw me in.

I'm not going to summarize the books in the list-look at the links. It is an eclectic group of books but that's my reading style. I found them all to be worth reading.

Anyway, I have plans to read a lot of books this summer, although summer isn't going to be any slower than the rest of the year. I AM teaching summer school for 4 weeks. I think I might be a little crazy, but the money will be nice. I'm teaching the little ones-early childhood special ed. Totally different than what I do now. It will be interesting. Wish me lots of calmness in my future!!

Some books I plan to read:

1. Amen, Amen, Amen by Abby Sher

2. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier ( I actually started reading this one already and it seems good).

And I'm open to whatever comes across my path. If anyone has any suggestions about books I should check out, leave me a comment!!!

Happy Reading!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

I have been a bad blogger

I'm sorry. I know I have been a bad blogger.

It just seems like it takes so much effort to write a post these days.

I actually started a few and never finished them.

Not too much has been going on these days anyway. We're gardening (the strawberries from our garden taste great) and I now have radishes and peas growing in my kitchen almost ready to be transplanted. Just trying to find a place in the yard to put them where they won't be devoured by squirrels and other pests. The tomatoes are already sprouting and we are trying out leeks and cabbage this year too. The mint, basil, and cilantro are delicious too. Need a second try on the cukes-they animals ate the plants we started with. I actually dislike gardening but enjoy the veggies so it's worth it in the end.

I might work summer school with the littlest kiddies. It's at my school this year which is convenient, only til 12, and only 4 days a week. So, the extra money could be useful. But I usually need my break so we'll see. Since my kids are only in camp for the afternoon this year (gymnastics camp), I could bring them with me and put them in summer school at my school. Or they could help me with my class.

The kids are good. M is talking a ton-she says things like "I go" and "What's that" and "No." Everyday it seems she is saying more and more and she is only 19 months. She's gotten very clingy and wants me to carry her all over the house, ALL the time. Makes it hard to get anything done. Both Little T and Lulu got great reports at parent teacher conferences last week. They are meeting all developmental/academic milestones and are ready for next year. The teachers are also happy with their social/emotional-behavioral growth. Totally affirms for me that we have made the right educational decision for them. Big T is also doing well. We are working on some emotional issues with her and she is making progress and growth and we can see it!! She is less anxious and happier overall. We are very blessed right now, Thank G-d!

Have been reading a lot even though I haven't mentioned it lately. I will try to put a list of the books on my next post.

That's the update for now. .

Monday, May 3, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week.

Here is what I found in my mailbox at work this morning:

Mrs. B. is a wonderful teacher because she is nice. She will help any student with homework and schoolwork. She is very smart and punctual. Plus she is very graceful with hardheaded students. Over all she is a great and wonderful teacher. (He also drew a picture with the caption "pretty as a flower.")

Never underestimate the power of saying thank you. It goes a long way.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oven pancake, apple style

I don't think I have ever posted a recipe before but this is just so good, so homemade and so easy that I can't resist. Those who don't like cooking I give you permission to skip this post-go read something else.

As for everybody else, if you are looking for something new to make, I hope this helps.

This recipe is actually from Betty Crocker and she calls it Puffy Oven Pancake.

2 Tbsp. stick marg or butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk (I used soy and kept the whole recipe pareve).
1/4 tsp salt

1. Heat oven to 400. Melt marg in a pie plate (I used an 8" round disposable pan) in oven.

2. Beat eggs in bowl. Beat in remaining ingredients and pour into pie plate.

3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until puffy and deep golden brown.

To make the pancake with apples:

Prepare the pancake following the above directions-except sprinkle 2 Tbsps. packed brown sugar and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon evenly over melted marg in pan. Arrange 1 cup thinly sliced peeled apple over sugar. Pour batter over apple. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Immediately loosen edge of pancake and turn upside down onto plate.

I actually doubled the recipe and it worked great. It fed 4 kids and 2 adults with nothing left over. I think it would go great with whipped cream but I didn't have any so we ate it plain and it was still fabulous.

I hope you enjoy the oven pancake as much as we did!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bright spots in a blah week

This week has been rough.

Not for any terrible reason, thank G-d.

Just regular life is a little overwhelming. Especially when Sundays have a lot going on-I feel like I am always playing catch up.

But there have been some bright spots this week including:

1. Sinus rinse!! My allergies have been killing me and (thanks for the medicine advice, everyone!) I got a sinus headache yesterday on top of all the allergy drama. So I used my sinus rinse and it really works. The pressure in my head went away almost immediately. So that was a yay!

2. I made an oven apple pancake last night. Homemade. Delicious. I doubled the recipe and it was gone it 10 minutes, I didn't even have time to take a picture. I will try to post the recipe later in case anyone wants it.

3. Report card pick-up day today! Not exciting except for that I didn't need to go into work until 12 today. So I did get some stuff at home done today.

At least there have been a few bright spots this week. Maybe there'll be more, who knows?

Monday, April 12, 2010


This is my 101st blog entry. I have officially passed 100 posts. That has got to be important to mention, right?

Actually, I do want to say thanks to everyone who reads, it means a lot to me. Blogging has been a way for me to express myself and share my thoughts and the fact that people out there in cyberspace find me interesting is very encouraging. So I thank you and my self-esteem thanks you too! And feel free to speak up and share. I love reading comments.

Anyway, yesterday I forgot to mention something else I love: coffee!! I finally opened my new keurig and it is fabulous, awesome, and amazing. It really makes a great cup of coffee (and fast too). I'm not sure about the tea yet but I also drink lots of tea, so I think I am going to get my money's worth. Speaking of money, I got a really good deal on it. It's kind of a long story but my mom bought the mini at Kohl's for $72 ( she had an extra coupon and it was on sale and less sales tax in MD). I then returned it and upgraded to the elite and used a 15% off coupon so only paid $100 (including tax) for it. It's normally $130 without tax so I think it is a pretty good deal. And it will be an even better deal if I don't buy coffee during the week!

I could really use the coffee today-I am sooooo tired! It is so hard to be back to the routine. Even though it was back to the routine last week, this is the first Monday in a while and it is just plain exhausting!

I think I am going to go hunt down a cup of coffee to survive the afternoon. . .

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I love. . . and a question

warm, sunny days

long naps on Shabbos

cake, bread, muffins, scones, or any carb laden food


a long novel with lots left to read

time to read the long novel

all the work and parenting that my husband does around here

when my kids make me laugh

And now for my question-really bad allergies have been acting up: sneezing, runny nose, etc. Anybody had good luck with an over the counter allergy med? Benadryl works but then I am comatose for hours after. I need something that will help but not require a bed in the immediate vicinity. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Monday, March 22, 2010

this time of year

what i am doing with my time:

cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning.

lists, lists, and more lists.

i like making lists but in this case i feel like it just showcases all that i need to do, they keep getting longer, not shorter. i did find last year's lists/menus so it should help. also, (gasp!) i am getting some cleaning help (i don't have a cleaning lady during the rest of they year).

errands, errands, and more errands

haircuts, haircuts, and more haircuts

work, work, and more work (iep paperwork just keeps getting longer)

spring break is coming!! yay, all of pesach will be spent at home and with my family which doesn't happen often (usually i have to work during chol hamoed).

worrying about all the school budget cuts happening all over the city.

hoping i will still have a job next year (i am pretty sure i will but you just never know).

researching gardening/ how to grow plants in my backyard..

more later. . .

Thursday, March 4, 2010

accountability, etc.

I'm finally getting around to writing about accountability.

This is a very important topic for me as it seems to rear it's ugly head almost daily in my life.

A few weeks ago after report cards came out some of my students had D's and F's on their report cards. Now, anyone who knows anything about special ed knows that it is really not ok to put those kinds of grades on a report card of an IEP student. Why? Because that usually means something is wrong in the IEP and it's not working. And usually I agree with that. I just don't see a lot of point in giving special ed students failing grades-they are already working extra hard.

But what about when the grades are already modified (changed to help the student succeed)? And they are receiving all the modifications and accommodations listed in their IEP? So, simply put they are just not doing the work that is expected of them. What happens then? Philosophically speaking, is giving them a passing grade in that situation appropriate? It's certainly not the way real life works.

Just to backtrack for a minute: I have mentioned before that I work in "the ghetto." (please don't be offended-my students call it that). And my students more than any other in the school are lacking so many things-money, family support(emotional), sometimes even food and clothes. So I understand that there are many factors that get in the way of their success. However, when do I stop making excuses for them and start to demand responsibility?

I truly feel that constantly lowering my expectations for responsibility does no one any good. It just continues the cycle of entitlement and the feeling that they don't have to try because there will be no real consequences for their actions. I think our society has completely enabled people with labels, people who fall in the special ed category. It's not a free pass. But I think that has trickled down from society. Students with disabilities need different things (hence, the individualized part of the IEP). Certainly they should have full and complete access to what they need. But that does not mean there are no consequences. Good or bad. Maybe the consequences will be different from others. But there are still certain results as a cause of specific actions. Whether or not it is because of a disability.

I'm getting a little off topic because I really want to focus on a situation that happened with a student that has an IEP but what happened is not a result of her disability. So here goes. An eighth grader I teach got a D in writing last quarter. I had been in touch with her parents over the course of that time (when she was missing assignments) and so it should not have been a surprise to them when she received that grade. Why did she get that grade? Simply because she did not turn in any work. Writing is difficult for her. However, she barely qualified for special ed services and organization is not an issue that is addressed in her IEP. And yet, the parents want to blame me and say that it is because I am not doing my job (they didn't actually say that, but it was implied). It is always easier to blame someone else than actually deal with the real problem. Anyway, besides the fact that I was personally offended (I work my butt off!!) they are doing their daughter such a disservice. She always has some sort of excuse why something isn't done (too noisy, couldn't finish it-the computer isn't working, etc.). She also tells her parents one thing and her teachers something different. So she is manipulative and trying to get out of work that she has to put more effort into to achieve a satisfactory result. She absolutely earned that grade. But am I not supposed to give it to her just because she has an IEP?

The grade stands and the principal supports me. And I documented myself well (note to teachers reading this-document, document, document so you CYA). There was a little more drama involved because they went behind my back to get sympathy and agreement from other staff members. However, it actually ended fine so far because it is not about me. It is about what is best for the student. Ultimately I want my students to be successful and however that needs to happen I will do it. But it is hard to do this job and feel like you are not helping, only enabling. I hate that.

Unfortunately, progress reports come out next week so the cycle will just repeat itself again. UGH. . . not looking forward.

Stepping off soapbox for now. . .

In some other news:

My sister had a baby boy on Sunday!!! Yay!! She made it to 36 1/2weeks! I'm going to the bris this weekend without any children. We'll see if I get to relax at all.

Little T lost her first tooth this week! She has a gap now in the bottom of her mouth.

Purim was low-key which is just the way I like it! I'll upload some pics soon!

Busy week and it is just getting busier as we move closer to Pesach!

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm still here, are you?

Blogging is hard work. Unfortunately, all the other work in my life lately has been hard also, so of course blogging was put on the back burner. But I am still here and let me catch you up so far.

Working backward. . .

3 out of 4 of the kids have been sick lately, nothing major but just bad enough that they can't go to school. Which is ugh.

Husband had the stomach flu (food poisoning?) on Thursday which meant I was doing my stuff and his to take care of the kids. Made all of Shabbos before work on Friday (woke up at 5) and then went to work and had a full day. Whew, was I tired.

Have had crazy amounts of IEP's to write and am still not done. I truly dislike 8th grade IEP's, all the transition paperwork is such a pain to make up write. I also had a parent meeting with the principal, that's a whole post in itself. Just to sum it up, just because a student has a disability doesn't mean they can't be lazy! But it's always easier to blame the teacher. Like I said it's a whole other post which I really hope I get time to write soon!

I might have a future pro bowler for a daughter. We took the kids bowling on President's Day. It was the first time we took them (Big T went with school but it was the other girls first time ever). Little T kicked all our butts! And the ball was almost as big as her! And I know it's not a fluke because we recently aquired a Wii and the kids have been bowling and she is beating us all on the game too.

Funny story: At dinner one night Little T asked me to put "creases and wrinkles" in her hair. It took us a while to figure out she really meant curls. Sometimes she uses the funniest vocabulary. That, combined with her individualistic personality makes for some funny conversations (she also recently started calling me "momster").

All I've got time for now. Hope you haven't forgotten me!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pics, Pics, and more Pics

I am not a domestic person. My mom used to worry about me when I was younger that I would never be able to cook for myself much less anybody else. And forget about laundry. I just could never figure out how to do it (even with a cheat sheet hung up next to the machine).

But necessity is the mother of invention and all that. . . So now I cook and bake and have actually gotten pretty good at it. But I am not "Suzy Homemaker" and come home from a long day of work and make super exciting food because I enjoy it. I don't enjoy it. I do it. Because I have to. Or we would starve. And I would get arrested for neglecting my children.

But every once in a while comes an occasion that brings out my creativity. And so I present to you. . . my version of a rainbow cake (the cake is even made from scratch)!! Now I am NOT a perfectionist and do not want to be one. And I was not trying to copy anything else except for the colors. It is MY attempt at this type of cake and I am pretty proud that I pulled it off (thanks, honey for the help!!)

Here are 2 parts of the cake in the process of being put together. There were also yellow and blue but I got tired of taking pictures.

Here is the finished cake. It's for 2 of the girls because their birthdays are 3 days apart. So they have a combined party. I did the writing on the cake-I think I am getting better at it!

Side view of the cake.

And here is a cute pic of the baby I just took a few days ago. We are in the "up the stairs, down the stairs" stage. I just looooooove that face!!
Hopefully, I'll get a up a few more pics later. That's all for my creativity for now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I know I've been gone a long time

How have I let so much time go by since I last posted? I'm sorry to anyone who actually enjoys reading this. I haven't forgotten my blog. I've just been focusing on life a little bit these past few weeks.

Work has been pretty hectic. It's IEP season (which means tons of paperwork), and standardized test season AND spring fever seems to have come on a little early this year with the students!! No one wants to do any work (me included) so I have been doing a little convincing and A LOT of cajoling! Even in my own house the girls are itching to play outside, they are literally climbing the furniture on a daily basis. And they are not getting along well at all-because they are literally in each other's faces all the time. Having sisters is a having built in playmates, but they want to play together even when they are annoyed with each other. What's up with that?

We have also been feeling playdate/sleepover insanity!! The girls were asking soooooo much to have playdates and also sleepovers that we had to make a rule. NO playdates during the week! At all. And they have to stop asking. Maybe it sounds mean but it was taking over our lives and not in a good way. We are too busy during the week to add more distractions. Of course, I am happy that my daughters have friends. That is something we don't struggle with.

We also had parent-teacher conferences for the middle two girls, Lulu and Little T. They went so well! The girls are happy, they are learning, and the teachers are happy with them. Not even one complaint. When the teacher see something that could potentially become an issue, they find ways to problem solve with the child. Lulu has "concentration endurance" issues (she has a hard time completing a task for an extended time). But they build in breaks and allow her to work on other learning topics and then return to the original task. And when she completes her work, she is completing it well! Little T has really emerged as a leader and loves to learn. She is completing multiplication problems (with hands-on material) because she wants to and she understands it! She's only just turned 6. We walked out of the conferences feeling so good about our choice to send them to this school. We thought we made the right decision and the conferences really confirmed it. Yay! Now if we could only win the lottery so we could pay for it! Ha!

On a different topic, we recently had the opportunity to have some guests for Shabbos lunch at our house. A couple that we do not know well. They are recently married (within the year) and kinda, sorta invited themselves to our house. Although that in itself is an issue, let's forget about that. When the man spoke to my husband he said he had food allergies (food dye). Well, the lunch was set up for 3 weeks since the time we spoke at shul so we forgot about it for a while. Thursday of this past week I emailed the wife to find out if this was the week and if so, are they coming? She responded late that night saying yes, she was sorry she hadn't confirmed earlier in the week, she was emailing her husband's food guidelines. Food guidelines? What the heck does that mean?

I found out when I opened an attachment that was about a page long listing all the things he could not eat/ what he could eat. I am not joking-the list included such things as "will eat green beans but only with lots of flavor, so if steamed don't bother making them.'' It did also say things he couldn't eat: challah bought from the bakery (dye), pistachios, anything with msg (listed all the ways that could be listed in food items), margarine, chocolate, and it went on and on. There were also many vegetables he could not eat as well.

What do you think I did with this information? I immediately emailed her and then called her to say that the menu had already been planned and the food made. There was not one thing he could eat, based on the food we made (deli roll, cholent-has potatoes, kugels with marg, etc.). So I told her that. There were even pistachios in the salad we were having. She tried to figure out a way to still come, but while trying that did not offer to make food to bring with them (except rolls). During the course of the conversation, it did become clear that he is sensitive to much of this food-they are not all allergies.

Oh my gosh. Seriously? Can someone really think it is ok to give a list like that a night before shabbos? Or even at all? Honestly, I felt resentment and irritation. I don't normally read ingredients on items I buy. That is time intensive for me to do simply for one shabbos meal . It is also costly to buy things I don't usually buy (earth's something or other margarine). Why should I have to do that? Which leads me to the mitzva of hachnasas orchim (inviting guests). How far do I have to go? As far as I can tell, there is no real reason they NEED to go out for meals. It's not like a single person who can't cook for themselves. They have a home. I know I am assuming, but because I am so sensitive to others when I enter their homes, I feel like it is a total lack of sensitivity on their part to have those sorts of expectations about the food. Additionally, when I have guests in my home I am (maybe extra) sensitive to their needs and would not feel comfortable serving them food they can't eat.

I could very well be wrong. But my resentment is still there. And I don't think it's going away any time soon.

Whew, it felt better to get that off my chest!

I do just need to acknowledge that it has been a little more than a year since I started this blog. I really appreciate all the readers and all the readers that comment. I never thought I would like doing this but it really has become not just fun, but important to me.

Thank you, Thank you!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sometimes early isn't a good thing

I'm not sure if I have mentioned this previously but my sister is expecting a baby around the middle/end of March.

Last week, she started having contractions and is now on bed rest. She is 30 weeks along. Even on bed rest (and medicine) she is still having contractions.

Her son came at 35 weeks and we are all praying for her to make it that long.

That's why I am letting everyone know.

If you can say some Tehillim (psalms) for her or any other davening (praying) I would truly appreciate it (and I know she would too)!

Her name is Miriam Yaakova bas Sora Chana.

Hopefully, Hashem will help that baby stay nice and cozy in there for a lot longer!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Progress update, etc.

So, I made this great list about what I intend to do. But how is it going?

Pretty well if I do say so myself. And it's my blog so I do say so.

Menu planning has been happening, 2 weeks at a time. It really helps to do it that way, technically I only have to go grocery shopping once every 2 weeks if I do it right. Of course, milk and produce still need to be gotten but that's a relatively quick errand.

Making double of some meals is also wonderful. I really wish I had started that earlier in my married life!! I now have a tuna casserole, tray of enchiladas, and a lasagna in my freezer waiting to be eaten. I really have to thank my husband for helping with this-he made the enchiladas and the lasagna (with the kid's help!) and that was totally appreciated! I also made homemade minestrone soup in the crockpot last week and I have some of that in the freezer also. Hopefully, I can keep up the momentum. This little bit of extra planning makes the evenings run sooooooo much more smoothly.

Cleaning is more challenging for me. I seem to do it in bursts-it's all or nothing. I am too tired at night after I come home from work to do more than dinner, dishes, laundry. So I am still figuring this part out. We did do a TON of cleaning this weekend, so the house is clean and it's amazing how much weight gets lifted off my shoulders. Of course, the cleanliness doesn't last long with 4 kids and snow, but at least it's clean for a few minutes.

Since the evenings are running more smoothly, I have more time to spend with the girls and that makes them happy. Which makes me happy. Big T and I went to a mother-daughter event at her school and we actually had a nice time. We made a project together (a topiary-great for my artistic daughter), ate snacks, and played a game. When I asked her what her favorite part of the evening was I expected to hear about the project. But she said "spending time with you mommy." Sometimes they can just make me all mushy inside. Here's another mushy moment:

So now I have been mulling over another idea. Among the blogs I read, this one has an interesting challenge going on right now. She calls it Eat From The Pantry Challenge. The premise is that for the month her family is only buying produce, milk, and perishables. When I first read this, I scoffed at it. I thought it was crazy. But the more I thought, the more it made sense. And the reason it made sense to me is that that wonderful holiday Pesach (Passover) is just around the corner. As I have built up quite a stockpile of such items as pasta, pancake mix, cereal, and canned goods, not to mention the chicken I have in the freezer; I thought it would be an opportune time to use these food items. I an NOT making rules for myself, I am just going to try to really work hard at planning my menus around these items. Wish me lots of luck-I'll keep you posted on my efforts. ( I know my husband will be REALLY happy, besides for the saving $$ part, he wants the closet where I keep the food surplus for a huge fish tank-now he has hope of getting it).

We celebrated 2 birthdays this past week. Big T turned 9 and Little T turned 6!! That is just plain craziness, where has the time gone? Big T has now earned her nickname, she is just 6 inches shorter than me! Granted that is not hard to do considering I am less than 5 feet tall, but still. She's only 9!! I kinda feel like I am growing up with her (as a parent). I don't know how to parent a child this old, I've never done it before!! Hopefully, I won't make too many mistakes!

But back to the birthdays. They each got to pick the dinner on the night of their birthday. Subway and enchiladas!! We've certainly branched out from pizza and hot dogs (although they are my husband's children-they usually ask for steak)! We are planning to have a small family party soon, so I plan to put some pics up then.

That's all for now. Hope everyone is having a good week!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The risks of the job

The setting: my classroom

The when: 2 days ago

The situation: A student, coming from another class, entered my room dancing and singing. I proceeded to say to him "stop acting a fool and get to work." I was not attempting to be funny or use slang to get his attention. It seems that phrase "acting a fool" has made it into my everyday, run-of-the-mill vocabulary.

Uh-oh, what other expressions do I use on a daily basis that make people look at me funny?

I hope nothing too terrible!

It's a little scary to think I might start sounding like my students. Shouldn't it be the other way around-they should start to sound like me! Although, I would be happy if I could just get them to stop sticking "be" in a sentence where it doesn't belong.

So, here's a request: If you see me around, please ignore any and all inappropriate language you might hear come out of my mouth, as I am surrounded by middle schoolers all day long, 5 days a week.

They were bound to rub off on me some time!

Friday, January 1, 2010

I usually never do this but. . .

. . . here is a "work in progress" goal list.

I noticed that a lot of my posts focused on feeling overwhelmed this past year. And I have been reading a lot of blogs lately that are discussing goals and ways to improve life in this coming year. So, even though I know that a mom who works full-time and has 4 kids can't eliminate all feelings of being overwhelmed, I am going to try some small steps. And since I remember things better when I write them, you get to read them.

1. When I cook I am going to try to double my meals and put one meal in the freezer for the future. I have started doing this on a semi-regular basis, but I would love to do this 2x a week.

2. Need to get back on the meal planning wagon. Maybe try planning for 2 weeks at a time? I have heard monthly planning is great but I just can't get there yet.

3. Clean my house more often-set up a regular schedule. You might need to sit down but. . . I do not have a cleaning lady. My house is pretty clean because I am constantly doing little things. I clean toilets when in the bathroom, laundry gets done constantly, etc. I am going to set up a schedule to get these tasks done (esp. mopping the floor-I hate it). Additionally, although the girls do do chores, I am going to make a more formal schedule for them as well.

4. As far as spending goes, the couponing has been going really well. I have been able to keep weekly grocery/drugstore shopping under $125. (In a city that has 10% sales tax!) I have been shopping at Jewel and probably averaging about $70 a visit. The rest of the money is spent at the drugstores (which net me coupons and toiletries at the same time). This includes diapers/pull-ups. I used to spend more than that just at Jewel every week. So I am proud of myself. But there are a few big purchases I would like to make this year (UGGS, Keurig) so I need to stop impulse shopping. This is especially bad at Target. I only buy things on sale, but even that adds up when it happens every week. I would like to put that money towards those bigger purchases.

5. Some sort of home organization-some things in my house just don't have a proper home and they need one (paper, toys). I need a bulletin board (I hope the husband is reading this)to help me keep important things in view.

6. Do something that keeps me anchored religiously. . . not sure what that is yet but when I find something, I'll let you know.

7. Lastly, and most importantly, figure out how to spend more time with my kids individually. They really crave individual attention and I think it is so important to give them a sense of self separate from their sisters (especially hard with 3 girls that are 18 months apart). I think I need to make some sort of formal chart for this as well, otherwise I will get lazy. And it will cut down on the arguments if everyone knows they have a set time.

Ok, that's it. Not a short list it seems. But hopefully I have put somethings already in place, and that will make the harder things a little easier to accomplish.

Wish me some luck and a lot of help from G-d, I think I'm going to need it.