Saturday, September 26, 2009

Look what I found!

At 5 Minutes for Mom, they had a post about school lunches and the Love Your Veggies grant program from Hidden Valley Ranch. How I laughed when I found it! What timing!

Funding must be spent on any of the following:
Fresh produce (vegetables and fruits)
A vegetable station (such as a dedicated salad bar)
Kitchen equipment (primary usage must relate to proposed program)
Program staffing (cafeteria personnel, lunchroom staff, etc.)
Nutrition education supplies
Food Safety Training

Each school grant is $10,000. in direct funding. I do plan on doing this. Hopefully I can make a case for fresh fruits and vegetables! Wish me luck!

Friday, September 25, 2009

If you serve it, will they eat it?

I was reading through the comments on my Tuesday post about school lunches. I admit that when K- started school, I was pretty excited since I read the menu from last year and it involved chef salads and whatnot. This year, there is chicken nugget day and pizza day, the rest are a hodge podge of funk.

My beloved cousin, Janeen, vows to change the school lunch offerings before they leave the school that her boys are enrolled in. My question is, if you serve it, will they eat it? More specifically, will kids eat healthy stuff, or is the school providing them the meal most likely to be eaten?

I've been blessed with a child that is by and large a good eater. There are only a few foods that she does not like. She's not a fan of spicy, though a little is okay. She has never liked peaches or green beans. She has discovered that mandarin oranges aren't quite her thing. However, she is in love with fresh fruit or vegetable plates. As she walks by the cherry tomato growing to gigantic heights in our herb garden, she'll go snacking. The collards in the garden for Spike? She pulls some for him and some for her. Meat is admittedly not a complete favorite, though she'll eat small portions of it.

I just don't think that we need to dumb down the food education that schools are giving our kids. I agree wholeheartedly with Janeen's comment about childhood obesity. I don't think that chicken nuggets are low on the caloric food chain.

So, what am I pulling for?
-Fresh fruit plate with yogurt and some granola. K- would dig that.
-Fresh salads with a choice of toppings.
-Fresh veggie plate with cheese wedges
-Baked, non-processed meat offerings. Not fried.
-Fresh sandwiches of quality lunch meat.

"Beef and macaroni casserole, crispy chicken leg, corn dog, nachos supreme, chicken fingers, hot dog, chicken nuggets and pizza" is currently on deck this month for the public school system where we are in. Yuck.

I had to laugh about the print at the bottom of the school lunch menu. It was stating how much healthier school lunches are than packed, since the children get a larger variety of dairy and more servings of fruit and vegetables offered than in traditional packed lunches.

I beg to differ. Just yesterday, my child took:
-Curly noodle soup
-Cherry tomatoes and crinkle cut carrots
-Goldfish crackers with a few chocolate animal crackers
-1/2 turkey sandwich on double fiber wheat bread

Really? I think that my lunch sounds healthier. (And yes, I packed far too much.) So, my question is, if you were to design the school lunch menu to feed the masses of children that eat it daily, what items would you want to offer? Many other places are revamping their school lunch programs. What can we do to change ours?

Smiles in my day:
- K-'s interim report card was FABULOUS! I'm excited to report that the supplemental reading course seems to have helped as K- scored in the highest level of reading. The teacher also reports that she is a delight. Hooray!
- Hubs has been transferring the home videos of K- over to DVD. We've been watching and some are hilarious. We are complete dorks and the video footage definitely confirmed that.
- My soup tonight turned out wonderful! I made far too much. Want some? :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Heavy Weight.

You know those days when something weighs heavily on you and you have conversations with yourself?

I'm there.

My brother is my weight right now. It is a story of unfortunate choices and better choices. My brother was addicted to her*oin for years. Long story short, he kicked the habit over 3 years ago. He actually detoxed himself (beginning here at our house and then on his own with my sister, mom and me tailing him pretty close.)

Folks, he fell into drugs again. It makes my heart beyond sad. My in-law's told me it would happen. I swore to them to their faces that they were wrong.

My brother promised me.

He hasn't called me. What I know is secondhand from my mom. Apparently he is at my sister's, detoxing from Ox*ycon*tin. He has been rolling with this since June, which would explain his absence from my life all summer long. I mean, he and his family practically lived here last summer. We joked because my nephew liked to come over for the "cold heat." (A/C) I missed him. When I went to his house, I was basically shooed away. Stupid, dumb me thought he was mad at me. I admit that it didn't enter my mind that he was back at it. How's that for a lesson in self-centeredness? [slamming thunk to the forehead]

How much of an idiot do I have to be?

He was avoiding my mom, too. The final straw for me was when I stopped by to drop some school supplies off for the kids, knocked on the door, heard that people knew I was there and did not answer the door. (They were having a conversation about me by name.) I left. My mom asked why I didn't just go in. It wasn't my house. I wasn't invited in and I knew not to go.

So goes the Charlie Brown moment of ARRRRGGGGHHHH!

So, my brother is making better choices for himself right now. He knows that he was involved-- again-- and sees it as a problem. Again, I'm waiting for him to come to me. He views me as worse than mom. He knows that I'll cry. You know what? He's right.

Pray for me that I have constructive, loving and supportive words. I'm so disappointed that I don't even know what I'd say.

Edited to add:
The doctor's office called. Culture came back. K- did NOT have a UTI, she had a viral stomach funk. She's past it now and all is well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Uncle Wiggily's Story Book

As a part of K-'s homework, we need to read nightly for the 100 book challenge. Since we already had the habit of reading nearly every night, this wasn't so much an issue. The book reading goal has changed the way K- thinks of blank time. I'm glad to say that now when there are blank moments in the day, K- will ask, "Mommy? Can you read to me? How about Uncle Wiggily?" [insert twinkly 5 year old eyes and a smile]

With the 100 book challenge, each 15 minutes of reading equals one step completed towards the 100 book goal. Now in Kindergarten, 15 minutes of reading doesn't exactly equal out to one book. Normally, we can belt out a few kid books together in that time. Uncle Wiggily, however, counts as 1 step per chapter.

There are 36 chapters in this particular book. And to think that I was worried that we were running out of books at the house. (Yes, we'll be hitting the library. Don't worry.)

So on to Uncle Wiggily, the bunny rabbit gentleman who lives in a hollow stump bungalow, wears a tall, silk hat and walks with a red, white and blue striped rheumatism crutch. The stories are wholesome. They show that though things happen, they aren't necessarily all bad. They reinforce helping others and giving of yourself and your belongings. In one story, Uncle Wiggily gives his new boots to Puss in Boots. In another story, he passes out the supplies that he purchased for Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy to animals in need along the way home.

Good stories are hard to find. So for this week, that is what works for us. Have a good week!

A side note:
Please consider taking a look at my prayer list on the sidebar. In the last few days, I've had some pretty hefty prayer requests given to me. Just today, the gallery director gave me the update on her granddaughter's fight with Lymphoma. Treatment has not worked, as the tumor in her lung is still active. They are meeting with other professionals at the Cleveland Clinic to re-formulate her treatment plan. Please consider praying for Marcy, as she is 29 years old, single and the chemotherapy that she has gone through has put her into early menopause. Her doctor gave her the news by phone at work, which not only upset her greatly, but the entire staff where she works. I update my prayer list at least weekly, if not more often than that.

Come on back!
I'm having an informal shin-dig here at the ole blog. All of you are invited to the 1st Annual Bailey's Leaf Lovin' on the Crockpot Fest. I don't know how to make buttons, so I didn't make one. I'm not familiar with putting Mr. Linky or whatever it is called now into a post, but should probably figure that one out. At any rate, if you would love to share a crockpot recipe with those of us in a cooking rut, come on over! We'd love to have you! Even if you have no rut and want to stop by and read recipes, we'd love to have you, too!

Smiles in my day:
- K- can return to school tomorrow. She is recovering from her UTI nicely. The milk of magnesia finally worked Tuesday morning, but just at the time we were to walk out. Thankfully, I work at a mom and pop that understands that your kid comes first and sometimes you just can't rush things. Though I was an hour late to work, they covered it and all was well. No one said a thing.
- Hubs and I divided and conquered this evening. Our livingroom has been sick bay for 4 days (Hubs and me alternating couch sleeping with who manned sick bay overnight) and our home was trashed as a result. (1008 sq ft, remember?) Hubs tackled the kitchen and getting K- bathed and ready for bed. I tackled the laundry, putting K-'s bed back together (sheets and all from the unfortunate 4 AM illness the other morning), found the livingroom (I was sure it was there underneath all the Barbie paraphernalia) and ran the sweeper. Oh, it is lovely again.
- My mother-in-law took K- for us today so we could both work. She caught K- up on her school work and read several books for her 100 book challenge log. Way to go, Grandma!
- Walking around the grounds of work, collecting all sorts of things to dry for my Christmas nature tree. I was able to gather wisteria pods, buckeyes, holly berries, lavender, poke weed buds, and buds of other things that I don't know the name of. I'll be collecting hydrangea tomorrow. These are the items I plan to use with one of my decorating demos. (If they choose not to do a decorating demo, that's fine because I'll still use the natural items I collected to decorate a tree anyhow.)
- Sleep! Glorious sleep! We all slept last night, though K- reported nightmares. I think that it was illness and/or medications.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: School lunches + mystery solved

We'll start out by saying that this post was written prior to K- going to the doctor. It seems as though Miss K- is suffering from a Urinary Tract Infection, which will mess with all of your interiors. Argh. So, though the diagnosis isn't even close to what we thought, I suppose that I still stand by what I wrote and since I've been up since 4 AM (for the most part with very short naps until 8:30 AMish) and am clearly too lazy to write a new post, I'll just hit publish on this one and be done with it. So, K- is on sulfa and Milk of Magnesia, which hasn't kicked in yet, but with any luck it'll kick in overnight and we can have a repeat performance of last night! [insert raised hand and HOORAH! here]

So, here's the rant of the week that y'all have been waiting for. Have a nice day!
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Poor K-. Remember that she vomited at school on Thursday AT lunch and I was called to come pick her up. She did make it all day at school on Friday, but ended up with a monster stomachache on the way home that continued on. (She reported having a stomachache for most of the day.) Hubs and I have kicked it around a bit and have come to a few conclusions.

First, K- was backed up. The school schedule has goofed with her "schedule" and as such, her body hasn't been able to completely turn around. Hubs suffers from digestive issues and any switch in his routine throws him for a loop.

Secondly, this was the first week that she got school lunch all week. Hubs brought up that he thinks that the food is not what we would typically prepare/eat, so that has brought upset to her system. This week was nachos supreme, which was basically a taco plate. That was served twice. It miffed her a bit, since she didn't like it the first day and they gave leftovers the next day, rather than the macaroni and cheese with broccoli that was scheduled. The mac and cheese showed up on pizza day. They have chicken nuggets and hot dogs, too. Add to the fact that waiting in line for the food and finally getting to sit and eat eats into eating time. K- can have the habit of piling food in, particularly in light of time being of issue, thus causing her to be sick to her stomach and occasionally vomit. Time is something that my friend, Kim, brought up at the beginning of the school year.

Another thought. I was speaking with Kim about the school lunch theory and I told her that K- just really didn't like the taco stuff. My thought? I use ground turkey. I'm thinking that theirs is ground beef, and not the high quality stuff. She laughed and said that she agreed totally.

Additionally, they serve green beans, peaches and mandarin oranges with nearly every meal. K- is not at all what I would consider a picky eater (the kid ate liver for goodness sakes), but she will not eat any of these. From infancy, she wouldn't touch peaches or green beans. Citrus? The texture is just not it for her. (I have the same problem with it.)

Lastly, Hubs and I had a bit of a funk a few weeks ago that resulted in my having a monster stomachache for about a week. I don't get stomachaches. We think that all of this combined landed K- in sick bay.

So, Hubs suggested that I go back to packing K- lunch several times a week. We're not going to totally take her off the school lunch "buying," because it is something she enjoys to do with her friends. I pack a far healthier lunch for her, involving whole grain bread, soup or raviolis, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. There is also something to be said for the Purell that is packed into her lunch sack, though she has begun to wash her hands before lunch. (She reports that she is the only kid to do so, but we discussed how important it is and Mrs. H- has Purell right at the door. Getting a squirt as she walks past really isn't hard to do.) We believe that by putting all of this into place, this next week may be a better digestive venture for K-. Sadly, we missed the community festival this weekend, but I've promised to take K- to other festivals that are coming up. In fact, we have two park festivals coming up next month.

So I spent Sunday cooking down ripe tomatoes from our little herb garden tomato plants. It took about 5 hours, a Foley food mill, milk, salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar, a tiny dash of baking soda and scant amount of ground Italian seasoning to make homemade tomato soup to send in K-'s lunch. After a large pot filled nearly to the top with quartered tomatoes cooked, I made 4 1/2 lunch sized servings for K- and put them in the freezer. It really is funny how much it doesn't make. (No formal recipe. Sorry. I ended up winging it.)

She has opted to NOT get school lunch at all this week (we've talked about the school lunch theory), so I'll be on packing duty in the AM. I pre-pack as much as I can the night before (dry snack, fresh fruit/veggies,) and the next day I prepare the hot portion (thank you stainless steel thermos container!) and 1/2 sandwich, if needed. I think that last week's school lunches put K- over the edge.

So, after reading my post riddled with sentence structure problems, paragraph issues, commacizing and flying in tangention*, what is your take on school lunches? I know, Rachael, that Lily has been having some lunch issues, because the food differs from that at home. But, do your children have digestive issues with it? Is it really the low grade crap that we've come to figure it to be? Do the kids bypass the option altogether and just pack from home? My inquiring mind wants to know.

*I'm aware that I make up my own words, but I'm okay with it. Maybe Webster's will pick me up someday. Maybe I can be like Willy Withit (from If Only I Had a Green Nose) and instead of the "new thing picker" maybe I can be the "new word picker!" You think?!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday- Macaroni Monday
Tuesday & Wednesday- Ham and bean soup in the crockpot
Thursday & Friday- Chicken Pot Pie (Thanks GEagle for having lowered prices on their whole chickens to below what the sale price was last week on the chicken that I didn't score.)
Saturday- Chicken and gravy over mashed potatoes with sides (made from reserved chicken from CPP.)
Sunday- Braised pork chops in the crockpot with potatoes, carrots and whole grain rice.

So last week I did not get to follow my menu plan at all. Between Hubs having to work a few nights that I didn't anticipate, K- falling ill, the grocery being out of sale chickens and whatnot, I adjusted. However, I cooked each night and the menu forced me to consider the foods that I had accumulated and I took it from there. Here's how the switch worked out:

Monday- Leftover chicken and vegetables from Sunday night instead of macaroni and cheese. No need to waste.
Tuesday & Wednesday- Kielbasa, Alfredo noodles and creamed corn. (I know, starched to death.) This was instead of Kielbasa Soup.
Thursday- Macaroni and Cheese instead of Chicken Pot Pie, as the grocery was out of whole on-sale chickens and I hadn't the time to return yet.
Friday- Since no CPPie and K- was feeling ill (though she made it the whole day), Hubs brought me home a cheap Totino's pizza.
Saturday & Sunday- Spaghetti and turkey meatballs.

Smiles in my weekend:
- K- seems to be cured of her stomachache/sore throat/low grade fever/constipa*tion funk. She and I stayed in all weekend to clear her of her uck and I think that is just what she needed.
- She had me read Uncle Wiggily to her for 45 minutes, as she laid on the floor coloring in her coloring book.
- K- outside making mud pies and burying her feet "in the soil." Bless her heart.
- I successfully cut K-'s hair today and she looks neither like a Yoder (bangs three inches above the eyebrows), nor does she look like Mommy did a whack and hack job to her hair. My last hair cut job was notasogood. Even my MIL informed me that the back was a little crooked. I work for free. Most of the time the cut is pretty good, but sometimes, well, you get what you pay for. But, pictures are at the end of this week and I really wanted to send her off looking decent, y'know?
- K- requesting to watch Mrs. Doubtfire, again. Of course, she refers to it as the "Movie where her bre*asts catch on fire, Mommy." [insert kettle lid fire snuffing hand motions here]
- Because of being locked in, somewhat like a sequestered juror, I found myself itching for a zipadeedodah when the Hubs arrived home. I prepared dinner for K-, had dinner cooking for him and busted the heck out. She hugged me and told me to "go to as many stores as you like." I hit Kohl's, Target and Walmart. I only bought things in Target, as Kohl's was too expensive and Walmart was, well, Walmart about everything. I had a mission. I found an outfit for K- for her school pictures on Friday. She really is a legging kind of kid, so I found multi-color dot leggings (technically Halloween, but they don't look like it) and a cool, long/long sleeved shirt that goes with. Lovely! A bonus? It didn't cost a fortune!
- Oh, and I watched movies this weekend, too. K- was on a Christmas kick, so we watched Elf and A Christmas Story. We also watched Running on Empty and I'm embarrassed to admit that I allowed her to watch the TV version of Dirty Dancing (I still censored for her above what they did.) I knew that she would love the dancing, but I forgot how that might look to a 5 year old. (It's been a while.) I also forgot about some questionable scenes that I suppose I figured that they would edit out. I flipped the channel several times to "bleep out" a few scenes. What did she take from it? Ken was holding Barbie in a beautiful lift today. Apparently, no harm done. [thunks to the forehead]

Have a great day!

Edited to add:
The red phone rang at 4:00 AM with stomach cramps, followed by a vomiting session while Daddy was on duty. Mommy? I was out trying to find a 24 hour pharmacy that sold pediatric suppos*itories (as suggested by the 24 hour children's hospital nurse that I spoke with at 4:15 AM,) which as it turned out was Walmart about 15 minutes down the road. Nevermind the Drug Mart, Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid that I passed along the way. It resurged, my friends. Argh.
Edited to add #2:
K- will be going to the doctor today at 2:20 PM. They'll give her the once over. I feel dumb, but if it is consti*pation, everything that I can think of hasn't worked. (We held on the supposi*tory due to vomit.) To the nurse, it sounds like a dose of constipa*tion and stomach virus. Ewww. Wish Hubs well. He has chosen to go on the adventure with K- himself. He had me make notes. It is hard for me not to go, but he is capable and a very involved dad. Still, I'm Mommy and the ears and all. He does take such good care of K- though.