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.