Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu Monday

Happy Halloween!

We're not quite the type who get overly excited about Halloween, but I'm pretty excited this year.  Something about seeing your little ones in costumes getting their candy on makes me so excited.  Little Miss is a Ballerina Princess (she named herself), and Little Man is going to be Batman (again).  I'm going as a preggo mom of two and Steven is going as the hunky Puerto Rican.  Those should be easy enough for us to pull off.  No costumes needed.

Now for the menu...

Tuesday-Nacho Pie and Corn Saute (recipe later this week)
Wednesday-Chicken Parmigiana, Salad, Roasted Garlic for Dipping Bread (Happy Birthday Mom!)
Thursday-Chicken Noodle Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Friday-Beef Tater Bake, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Saturday-Grilled Chicken Quarters, Gratin Potatoes, and Steamed Seasoned Broccoli
Sunday-Out for Little Man's 5th Birthday!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

I'm Going Back to School!!!!

(My Life as a Public School Teacher)

I've really struggled with the idea of going back to school.  I loved my job. Let me rephrase that.  I loved teaching kids and making a difference.  I did not like the mindless documentation of students who scored below level on one stinkin' state test.  Nor did I like the last minute meetings to go over the lastest paperwork invented.  Nor did I like the 'Let's Do This Assessment On This Assessment To See If the Assessment Is Working'.  Nope, I didn't like any of that.  I just liked teaching kids. 

Even with all the hoops I learned to jump through over the seven years I was a teacher in public schools, I have decided to go back.  Today I say goodbye to my life as a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom), and say hello again to public school.  Well, at least for an couple of hours.  I'm headed to Pre-K today with my Little Man.

He's doing so well in school and it has a big part to do with his teacher and her aide.  I worked really hard and pulled as many strings as I could to get Little Man in this particular class.  His teacher, Mrs. Snow, is amazing.  And, one amazing thing she does is invite the parents to her classroom two times a year.  Today is my day to visit and then Steven will get to go in March.

Today I'll sing songs.  Today I'll have circle time.  Today I'll craft.  Today I will learn my letters.  Today I will learn introductory Math skills.  Today I will be a Pre-K-er alongside my Little Man, and I couldn't be any happier about it.  This is going to be a great day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Can Relate

If you have ever nursed a child for any length of time, you'll be able to relate to this photo too.

All this mom was doing was minding her own business, and then BAM!  She's got two youngins trying to nurse.  I've never nursed two kids at once, but it's enough to nurse one.  Then it hit me.  I'm going back.  I'm headed back to the land of  'Do I Have Enough Time To Run One More Errand Before My Boobs Are Needed At Home'. 

I stood there leaning against the fly infested fence staring at this poor mom.  Eventually, she kicked her back legs and trotted off leaving her two stinkers behind.  Then I realized, I liked nursing my kids.  Yes, it seems my body and my time are never to myself, but it's such a short amount of time compared to my children's entire lives.  To sit down and cuddle and feed my baby will be a reward.  Now, can someone remind me of this come March?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Potato Kielbasa Skillet

I'm breaking a blogging cardinal rule.  The posting of a recipe without a picture.  I know, I find it annoying too since I eat with my eyes.  Unfortunately, tonight I'm tired so I went for the easier post...a recipe.  I think I'll add the picture later.  That's if I remember.

You should know that this dish is a good one.  It's a little bit of a different flavor to the usual weeknight meals, all cooked in a one skillet, and it's hearty. What more could you want?  Oh, you still want a picture.  I'll get on it.  Until then, you'll have to peruse the ingredients list to see if it's up your alley.  It's definitely up mine...alley that is.  It's up my alley.

Potato Kielbasa Skillet
1 lb red potatoes cubed
3 Tbsp water
3/4 lb smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
4 cups fresh baby spinach
5 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
  • Place potatoes and water in a microwavable dish. Cover and microwave for 4 minutes or until tender; drain.
  • In a large skillet, saute kielbasa and onion in oil until onion is tender.  Add potatoes.  Saute for 3-5 minutes until kielbasa and potatoes are slightly browned.
  • Combine brown sugar, vinegar, thyme, and pepper.  Stir into skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach and bacon.  Cook until spinach wilts down and stir dish.
Happy Cooking!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Last year we won the Worst Parents Award.  We didn't take our two youngins to the p-patch.  The pumpkin patch that is.  Somehow driving 40 minutes across time just didn't fit into our schedule.  We now lack fall-y type photos of our kids at age 2 and almost 4 crawling on pumpkins.  I don't know how we'll go on.

We knew we couldn't commit the same sin again, so we put it on the calendar and we made the trip.  Little Man compared it to the amount of time it took us to get to the beach.  I think his judgement of elapsed time is a bit off.  Just a little.  Even though it was out there, I'm glad we went.  Where else would kids from Oklahoma get to crawl on pumpkins, ride horses, and feed farm animals?  What's that you say?  Oh yeah.  Aside from the pumpkins they do the above activities at any festival in the Midwest.  Sheesh.  What was I thinking?  We're country folk.

Actually, we're not country folk. The smell of manure and flies were not comforting.  It was actually grossing me out.  Not to mention the animals with their gigantically long tongues lopping out to slime my kids' hands as they held out the overpriced feed.  And the alpacas.  Well,  Little Miss and Man were not going anywhere near those things.  I hear they spit.  Not my idea of a good time.  So I, the controlling mother, lovingly told the kids to watch out or they'd get a loogie in their eye.  This led to the description of a loogie.  Yep, I'm certain the kids won't be going near an alpaca anytime soon.  I feel my job as a mother is now complete.

Now onto the photos because I love showing my kids off.  They are, after all, the cutest things ever.  Somehow the mix of Puerto Rican and Swedish genes go well together.  Who knew?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Menu Monday

It has been a productive, but tiring weekend.  I don't have many brain cells left so you just get a menu without some mindless rant or an attempt at any kind of comedy.

Monday-Grilled Chicken BBQ Quesadillas, Spicy Potatoes, Borracho Beans
Tuesday-Potato Kielbasa Skillet with Crusty Bread
Wednesday-Sausage Egg Muffin Cups and Toast
Thursday-Roasted Chicken Quarters, Broccoli Bake, Cheesy Biscuits
Friday-Chicken Stir Fry and Brown Rice
Saturday-Chunky Monkey's 3rd Birthday!!!
Sunday-Hamburgers with Chips and Queso Blanco

I'll post the recipe for the Potato Kielbasa Skillet.  It's a fairly simple meal that is welcomed at our table when traditional meals are tiresome. me.  See you tomorrow!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Good One For Friday

I love stories that leave you feeling full, and THIS story will. 

It's less than five minutes, and you'll be glad you watched it...and you'll probably want to start antiquing!

Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting Kids to Write: Part III

Click here to catch up on Journaling and Brainstorming.

Prewriting. Such a scary word for young writers.  This is the time where they have to sit down and make their words turn into sentences and their sentences turn into paragraphs.

Mrs. Torres, how many sentences does it have to be?

Mrs. Torres, how long does it have to be?

Mrs. Torres, I still don't know what to write about.

Mrs. Torres, how do you spell...?

There's just something about a blank paper staring kids in the face that freaks them out.  Almost always kids who refuse to get started just have a mental fear. 

Is my teacher going to rip this to shreds as soon as she reads it?

Am I writing about the right thing?

Will it be good enough for the kids in the class to hear?

None of my little darlings ever said this out loud, but it's what fueled their frustration in beginning an assigned writing task. 

Long ago, I went to writing workshop over my summer break (yes, teachers work in the summer) and I learned very quickly how to get those fear writers out of their head and onto paper.  It was really quite simple.  When tasks seem too great we all like to shrink them down to size.  That's all I had to do for these kids.  Fortunately, it benefited everyone.  Even the kids who loved to write. Here's what I did...

When discussing brainstorming, I mentioned we began our first writing project in October and I chose the topic as a personal narrative.  My students were supposed to write of a time they were scared.  (If you are following along with this lesson, please go back and have your child do the brainstorming activity.  It take the burden out of pre-writing and make it more enjoyable.)  To begin the pre-writing stage, I simply had the students go back and look at their Top 3 'I Almost Peed My Pants' moments and choose the one they would like to write about.  Then I told them they had to have a 1,000 word narrative hand written completed by tomorrow.  Just kidding!

The next step is really very simple.  I begin to share my most scared moment, but I begin with a good attention getter.  An attention getter is where the writer constructs their first sentence to hook you, the reader, into the story.  I grab a few books and read the first few sentences to them.  They get to decide if the attention getter is a good one or not.  I even throw in some, "Once upon a time..."' starters to throw them off.  The kids begin to see most stories don't start with the two dreaded words...One day...

So I give them my attention getter.

I was snuggled beneath my warm sheets dozing off to sleep when I was awakened by a loud crash through the front bedroom window.  Jolting from the bed, I turned to Steven and screamed in the softest voice I could, "Hurry, hurry, get up.  There's someone breaking in the house!"

Then I stop and turn off the overhead (no Smart Board for me 3 years ago), and told the kids that was it.  Since I'm quite the jokester, I also instructed them to pull out their History books.  Of course no one did.  One they knew me too well, and two they really wanted to know what happened.  Instead of spilling the beans, I'd ask for questions like, "What else do you want to know?"

After the kids who had an opportunity to ask their questions by writing their them on my overhead, I really would turn it off.  It was their turn.  Yes, I was met by a lot of protests to finish my story, but it was right where I wanted them. 

The kids were directed to write the best attention getter for their story.  While they were writing, I'd circulate the room to make sure the kids were all writing and to help those who were 'stuck'.  Usually, by this point there was maybe one student who wasn't pumped to outdo the others.  A little probing usually did the job to get them off to the right start.  Once all the kids had their attention getter down on paper, they'd partner up with someone from the class.  Their choice.  Writing can be very personal, so I wanted them to be comfortable with which classmate they shared the start of their story. 

The kids basically did the same thing I modeled on the overhead with me monitoring their conversations.  Sometimes the partners would say, "I don't have any questions for them." This signaled one of two things for me.  One, the partner wasn't being a good partner by not using their thinking skills, OR two, the writer needs work on their attention getter.  Either they squeezed in too much information or not enough.  Either case, I was there to assist.

Once the kids were finished, we'd stop for the day.  The next day, the kids would begin to write their story, keeping in mind the questions their reader (partner) had for them the previous day (they recorded the questions in their writing journals).  I did have a few rules for the first draft, and they are as follows:

Rule #1: Don't ask how long it has to be.  It needs to be however long it needs to be to tell the story.  Some stories will be short and some stories will be long.

Rule #2:  Don't ask me how to spell something.  Right now is not the time to focus on spelling.  As long as you, the writer, knows what it says, you're good.

Rule #3: Use words that make me see your story, not just read it.  (Prior to this we have spent a lot of time on sentences that make you see, not just hear.  Basically, the kids are writing descriptively.  This is why we don't begin writing projects until almost 2 months into school.  It takes time to teach the basics.)

Rule #4: Don't ask about punctuation.  We're focusing on your ideas right now.

If it's really bugging you to see misspelled words and grammatical errors, well, get over it.  Pre-writing is not the time to correct your child or students' writings.  If they are concerned about spelling all the words right, they are going to dumb down their readability and word choice.  You want them to put down flavorful words, not just the ones they have in their spelling vocabulary.  And as for grammar, writing is not just about putting commas, periods, and sentence structure in correct order.  You'll get to these parts in time, but leave it out of the pre-writing stage.

I was going to talk about Revising today, but this is L-O-N-G enough. Can you tell I'm passionate about teaching writing?  What other sane person would type out something this long on pre-writing?  Only a teacher, right?  Poor Little Man and Little Miss.  They'll have a neurotic mother when it comes time for them to start writing projects at school!  Who am I kidding?  They already have a neurotic mother!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

And He's Off

Little Miss opened up a brand new bike for her third birthday.  Little Miss opened a brand new bike with training wheels for her third birthday.  Little Man was so excited for Little Miss' new bike, but he noticed one thing.  His little sister had training wheels, and he had training wheels too.  It wasn't long before he turned to Steven and said, "Daddy, I want to ride my bike without my training wheels."

There's one thing you should know about my husband.  Once you take a step forward, you don't go back.  He informed me that once these wheels came off, they weren't going back on.  Uh, excuse me?  Did he not realize that this preggo mama wasn't going to spend the week chasing after a four year old on a bike to catch his falls.  I started to protest, but quickly got a hand in my face.  You know, the hand that says, "Stop right there and don't say anymore."  Yep, I got that hand.  I shut up, but I had serious doubts.

At first it didn't go too well.  I think Little Man thought it would be the exact same as riding with his training wheels.  He got frustrated and began to have a fear of falling off.  Steven stuck with him though.  He wouldn't let him quit.  After about an hour, he had him riding with some help.  Lunch time was approaching quickly, and I wanted Little Man to stop on a high note so we took a quick break.  We all ate, and then Little Miss and I went in for naps.  Not the boys.  They stayed out to work on the bike riding.  When I woke up, I stepped outside to see my precious little boy going up and down the street by himself.  Steven had done it.  He got the boy on the bike without the wheels and riding like a professional.  He's amazing! 

So now I have an almost five year old cruisin' the neighborhood without his training wheels.  He rides that bike like a wild thing.  A wild thing from the jungle...

...and his little sister, well, she just does what he does.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

She Turned Three

It is inevitable. My kids will grow up. As much as I enjoy them right now, I know that the goal is to nurture and teach them, send them on their way, and pray we've done a good enough job so they want to come back and see us (but not live with us).

Little Miss' 3rd Birthday was on Saturday. It's always been a tradition at our house that you get a pancake made with the number of your birthday, and candles with the Birthday Song for every meal. As the kids get older each year, they really look forward to this part. Little Man mentioned numerous times that he's going to have five candles this year. He's been practicing blowing so he can handle all those. I told him to talk to me when he's got 32 candles. Then he can start practicing! He didn't get it. Regardless, here's my Little Miss gettin' after her candles...

We had her party on her actual birthday. Since she doesn't have many friends outside of her brother's friends and their siblings, we had a low key party. I made her cake (or shall I say cakes, since the first homemade batter shrunk 2 inches in diameter after baking), decorations, and party favors, and invited our closest friends and family. She really enjoyed her time at the party.

For some reason, I didn't take a picture of the inside layers of her cake. Last year I made her a layered rainbow cake. This year I made the same kind, but the layers were pink and purple to go with all of the other decorations. It turned out well, but not as stunning as the rainbow cake.

The kids did a great job decorating cookies, but they weren't nearly as into the decorating as I thought they'd be. I guess I didn't take into consideration that the majority of the guests were boys. Psh! Boys. They don't like to sit too long. That, plus my anal need to keep things moving along, had Little Miss' party finished right at an hour. I'm not really sure if the parents were relieved to not be held captive around a small group of 2-4year olds, or if they were irritated they drove all the way out to Timbuktu for just an hour. Oh well, they'll get their fix here in another month as I gear up for Little Man's party. What was I thinking having these kids so close???

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Monday and One Proud Mama

It's been an eventful weekend at the Torres house.  A Fall Festival at Little Man's school, a party for Little Miss(well, the shortest party in history, but a party nonetheless), and two kids learning how to ride bikes.  One learned how to ride a bike for the first time ever, and the other learned how to ride his bike without training wheels.  They are growing up. 

{This pic was taken the day before Little Man lost the training wheels}

This week we are expecting a little cold front to come through.  I'm ready.  I like cool days where the air condition stays off the entire day.  I'm ready for the comfort foods.  I'm ready for sweats and hot chocolate.  As soon as I heard we were going to have a few mornings in the 40's and possibly the 30's, I quickly added a soup to the menu.  There's nothing like a cool day and some hot soup!

Monday-Dinner @ my Mom's (she's cooking for us b/c we'll be at Little Man's conference...she's the best!)
Tuesday-Balsamic Bowtie Chicken Pasta, Broiled Asparagus, and Honey Butter Bread
Wednesday-Taco Soup with Cornbread
Thursday-Baked Chicken, Stuffing, and Green Bean Casserole
Sunday-BBQ Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, and Peas

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Little Miss

My baby girl is turning 3 tomorrow.  How did this happen?

First she was this...
 {The day of her birth}

And then this...

 {Four months old}

And this...
 {Almost a year old}

And the little stinker kept growing...

 {Her two year old birthday}

Now she's this...

{My little princess today}

Words can't describe the love you have for your own child, but having a little girl is a bond like no other.  I understand why she does what she does.  All of those girly emotions, I get them.  She's turning into such a beautiful little girl inside and out.  I'm so thankful God has entrusted us to raise this little beauty. 

Happy Birthday, Little Miss. 
Mommy, Daddy, and Mason love you very much.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting Kids to Write: Part II

I sincerely apologize for not posting yesterday.  I know you all cling to my every word...well, maybe not!  Steven and I had a late night of putting together a new day bed for Little Miss and moving the crib to the baby's room. 

Last week I talked about getting your child to journal. Journaling is a great starting point for kids who are overwhelmed by the thought of a writing project.  After your child has been writing in their journal for a while, encouarge them to write about things that are intimate or personal to them.  In public school, I used to tell my students if they had a journal entry they wanted to keep private, they could write "DO NOT READ" across the top.  I promised them I would keep their wishes.  I never read those entries.  Not only would it betray their trust, but it would also discourage them from writing about personal topics.  This is a great way to encourage children to write on a deeper level.

Hopefully, after a month or so of journal writing you are beginning to see an increase of meaningful words on a page, and are able to introduce the idea of the Writing Process.  The Writing Process is usually broken down into five parts: Brainstorming, Prewriting, Revising, Editing, and Publishing.  It is imperative that you stay focused on what part of the process you are teaching, and stick with it.  Don't go dipping into one of the other parts...especially editing! 

In the first step of the Writing Process you are only asking kids to brainstorm what they want to write about.  When doing a writing project for my classes in public school, I always chose the genre of writing and basic topic.  Usually, our first project was in the month of October.  The kids were amped up about Halloween so we did personal narratives on a time they felt scared. 

Brainstorming was simple for this genre.  The students were to make a list in their journals of any time they remember feeling scared.  Of course you have some knucklehead who says, "I've never been scared before."  Then I make it my life goal to hide out in class only to jump out and scare the heebee-jeebies out of them.  Kidding, but I do spend a few minutes talking to them.  Often times the child just feels their 'scared' moment isn't scary enough.  It's good to reassure them that you can write the experience very scary, only to find out in the end everything was just fine.

After the kids have their running list of scared moments, they rank their Top 3 'I Almost Peed My Pants' Moments, close their journals, and move on to something else.  This usually leaves their jaws hanging and their hamster wheels spinning.  We're done?  How can we be done?

I absolutely love this part of the process.  Kids are so used to these long and lengthy writing projects.  When they're told to close their journals after little writing (and no checking of spelling and grammar, they're perplexed).  Thankfully, this leaves them with the feeling that writing doesn't drag out forever, even though in the end, it will take at least three weeks to a month to get to the publishing stage.  Yes, you read that right...three weeks to a month.  Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither should kids' stories.  It takes time to develop beauty.

On the next addition of  "Getting Kids to Write", I'll talk about the following two steps:  Prewriting & Revising.  This is where it gets good!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What He Puts Up With

A little over a week ago I got a call that went something like this...

"Amanda, can you meet me tomorrow night at this field so I can take your family's pictures?  I know it's totally late notice, but I need a short notice family."

"Let me check with Steven, but I think we can do it...(Checking with Steven)...Yep, we'll see you there.

That was it, and now we have these...

We are always super happy when Melinda takes pictures of our family.  She did our extended family session and Little Miss' two year old pics last year, and now these.  She's easy to work with, and you should book her.  Like now.  Not to mention she just found a super secretive Pecan Grove Farm that makes for the best location.

Moving on.  I'm sure you're wondering what the title is all about.  Well, I think there's a side of me I have failed to share with you.  I have an inner model inside of me.  So when Melinda said, "Hey, go stand over there so I can check the lighting," I couldn't resist going for some awesome poses.  I really think I gave her some great ideas for future shoots.  She had no idea how talented I really can be in front of the camera.  See what I mean...

I know. I missed my calling.  What I can't figure out is why Steven was rolling his eyes during my moment.  He must not know art when he sees it.  Come to think of it, I know he doesn't know art.  Humanities wasn't really his favorite course in college.  Or, maybe he was rolling his eyes because I embarrass him often.  Yeah, I think that must be it.  He puts up from a lot from me. 

By the way, today is our dating anniversary.  Fourteen years ago I went on the first date with the man I would marry.  It's been the best fourteen years of my life.  He's one amazing man...even when he was 18.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Menu Monday

I have two words for you...Taco Cups

You have to make them.  Easy, cute, delicious, finger food.  What's not to love?

And might I add that if you are feeling particularily multi-cultural then you should also make some arroz con gandules (not our family recipe, but close enough).  Basically, you'll be making a spin on a Mexican dish (Taco Cups) with a side of Puerto Rican rice.  PR rice blows Mexican rice out of the water any day.  Even Little Man's red headed buddy threw down some platefuls of arroz con gandules.  You know if a four year old white red head likes it, you will too.  Plus you'll be representin' to Hispanic cultures on one night.  You can't really live on the edge too much. 

Now that I've spent 5 minutes of my time trying to convince you to make rice, I think I'll go ahead and share my menu that does not include Puerto Rican style rice...

Monday-Zucchini Bake, Salad, Breadsticks
Tuesday-Monterey Chicken, Steamed Veggies, Loaded Potatoes
Wednesday-Sloppy Joes, Homemade Fries, and Peaches
Thursday-Sweet & Sour Chicken with Fried Rice and Stir Fry
Friday-Chicken Bacon Cresent Ring, Carrots with Veggie Dip
Saturday-Hamburgers, Chips and Queso Blanco, Fresh Fruit Salad (Happy 3rd Birthday Little Miss!)
Sunday-Dinner @ my Mama's

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Friday

I try really hard to enjoy each day whether it's Monday or Friday, but I am super pumped for some time with these guys...

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Wee Bit O'Shopping

Okay, this title may be a bit misleading.  Shopping I love, but not more than I love a good deal.  Recently, I received a catalog in the mail and I was astounded by pricing of certain items.  Items listed way lower than I ever imagined.  Sometimes even hundreds of dollars of what I would have something should have cost.  Now that's my kind of bargain.

I must admit the shopping catalog I received wasn't necessarily the kind you would usually look through, and the items weren't really items you and I would need.  We lead a convenient life.  We have easy access to the needs and wants for our families.  This magazine was the Samaritan's Purse 2011 Gift Catalog.  Just check out some of the deals inside...

Feed a Hungry Baby for a Week...........$9
Teach a Child to Read & Write.............$15
Give an Orphan a Month of Care..........$35
Help Save Lives of Mothers & Babies..$45
Hot Meals............................................$7
Life Saving Medicine for 50 people.......$60
Stock a Fish Pond................................$50
Dairy Goat...........................................$70
Fishing Boats........................................$50

When you compare these prices with the items we typically buy from catalouges or online, it seems ridiculous.  I'm thinking this week I might forgo some of my typically purchases and do a wee bit o'shopping for others.  Who knows, I might just buy a boat this week...or a goat...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Getting Kids to Write

Most teachers really dread teaching writing.  My strange genetic make up allows me to love the writing process and teaching kids how to get their ideas down on paper.  Excitement builds within me whenever I start planning a writing project.  Usually, kids give the long drawn out moan on the first time I announce we're going to do some writing, but by the end of the year the kids are asking when we're going to do the next one.  Now that's a feeling of accomplishment.

If you're a parent or teacher trying to encourage your children to write, I have some tips for you.  Over the next few weeks, I'll share some lessons I used to do in class to pull out the best writing from my kids.  I hope I'm able to do the same with my own as they grow.

One of the best things you can do for your child is to have them keep a journal and have them write in it everyday.  This can be very overwhelming for some kids.  They just don't know what to write.  In the beginning, I would put a writing prompt on the board for those who have writer's block.  The kids did not have to choose the writing prompt, but it offered a choice to those who didn't know where to start.  I also kept the writing limited to one minute.  Sound too short?  A minute can seem like forever when you're a kid doing the writing, but seems doable when they hear the short time limit.  During that minute I have one rule. You're pencil must be moving and it must be writing words.  At first I don't worry about the content.  Some kids write, "I don't know what to write," over and over and over.  After a while they get tired of writing that and their brain starts connecting to their hand.

If you're wondering what you do with the child who loves to write and a minute is just too short to put their ideas down on paper, I have an answer for you too.  Kids who complain that a minute is too short, generally already have a love for writing.  As they finish other assignments in class have them revisit their journal to continue their thoughts, or continue their story during the next journal write time.  Be sure you check on them to show your interest in their ideas.  Don't allow it to just be work to keep them busy.  Show your kids you value what they write.

Now that you know what to do with the child who won't write and the child who won't stop writing, I want to encourage you to allow your kids to share with others.  If you're doing this activity at home, try to find a buddy who will also commit to journaling.  If you're a teacher, offer a few minutes of class time immediately after the journal write for kids to share who want to share (Never force kids to share their thoughts if they do not want to).  This will allow other kids to hear all of the different types of writing kids record.  Some kids will write personal narratives and others will write lists of what they need to do when they get home.  All types are writing, and all have a place.  Just encourage your kids to write!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All That Glitters Drives Me Nuts

Glitter.  What a dirty nasty word.  It ranks right up there with other four letter words that I cannot disclose on this blog.  I'm just not that kind of gal.  So when Little Man brought home his October project for school and Steven suggested decorating it with glitter, I told him that man to bite his tongue.  Glitter, pssh! 

I had to think fast.  Little Man was taken by the idea of spreading glitter all over my well swept floor, only for me to agonize finding each little speck on my hands and knees and then burning it up to never be used again.  No sirree.  We weren't going to do that.  Instead I pulled out my stash of old magazines that could rival any hoarders.  I just knew those things were going to be of use someday.

Quickly, I assigned jobs.  I don't think I've ever mentioned before that I am really good at assigning jobs.  I majored in it in college.  You know, a BS in Elementary Education.  The BS stands for Bossing Supervisor...or at least I think it does.  Anyway, I assigned the jobs.  Little Man and Little Miss were to turn the pages and find the colors orange, green, and brown.  When they found the right color, they would tear out the page and put it in the right stack.  Then Little Man, Steven, and I would cut out the colors.  We just don't trust Little Miss with scissors yet.  We have a family history of kids cutting hair.  Just ask my cousin Scott.  His daughter gave herself an epic haircut. 

After the cutting of the colors, Little Man pieced it all together and created this work of art...

{Little Man's Fall Pumpkin}

Is that not the cutest little thang you've ever seen in your entire life?  I'm not talking about the pumpkin.  I'm talking about my boy still in his pj's, teeth not brushed, and major cheesy smile.  He's just so cute.  Now for the pumpkin.  He did a great job.  He also wanted to put his name on the front.  I don't blame him.  If I created such awesomeness, I'd want my name on the front too. 

Now, I sincerely apologize if you find glitter the best invention ever.  I just don't see the purpose of it in this world, and unless you can change my mind glitter will not walk it's devilish face through my door.  Ever.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Menu Monday

It hit me. The sneezy, stuffy nose, nasty allergies.  I've been reading about others who have been taken by this yucky stuff.  I thanked my lucky stars it hasn't happened to me, and now it has.  I really try to not complain, but this is annoying.  I'm really contemplating walking around in public with tissues up my nose.  Really, I am.  It's better than blowing my nose and messing up my lipstick.  Well, when I'm wearing lipstick.  Which isn't that often, but that's beside the point.  If I were to wear lipstick daily, it would be a mess. 

What's even more annoying is I have two new recipes I'm making this week...Taco Cups and a 3 Cheese Tortellini dish.  If I can't breathe, I can't taste.  I won't know if I should make it again or not.  Steven would eat poo, so he's not really a good helper in deciding if dishes are keepers or not.  Hopefully, the Kleenex stuffed up my nose will absorb all that I have coming out in time for the new recipes.  Wishful thinking, I know!

Monday-Smoked Salmon, Trees and Raisins, Texas Roadhouse Style Rolls
Tuesday-Grilled Steak Fajitas, Corn on the Cob, Spicy Potatoes
Wednesday-3 Cheese Tortellini Bake, Salad, Bread with Roasted Garlic Dipping Sauce
Thursday-Chicken Pesto, Honey Balsamic Carrots, Peas
Friday-Taco Cups, Veggie Rice, Plantains
Saturday-Pizza, Salad, Cinnamon Bread
Sunday-Dinner @ Church