Saturday, November 29, 2008

favorite thing friday

Do you remember how I wrote that we have learned that when we buy things, we generally get what we pay for?

So, when I spent $25.00 for a sleeping bag while I was in college and then couldn't sleep for the entire week of my geology field trip because I darn near froze my toes off, you better believe that I spared no expense on my next sleeping bag purchase.

Sure, my new bag is rated to 20 degrees below zero. Even though it never gets colder than 40 degrees in San Diego. But I'd rather have more fiber fill than I need. I'd prefer to be too warm than too cold. You can always cool off, but it can be very difficult to warm up.

Unless, you know.

You have a bottle of whiskey.

(And someone to sleep with that has a higher core body temperature than you.)

The point is, in the course of my life I have found a few things that are so worth the extra money, I just revel in owning such high quality goodness that I don't dwell on how much they cost.

Take knives for example.

Charlie and I have owned some really cheap knives in the course our 14-year marriage. We inherited a few. And because we were young newlyweds and then, shoestring budget graduate students, we would try to save money by purchasing a knife here or there. We had a hodge podge collection and they would quickly dull and never hold a good edge.

Now, in hindsight, if we'd just bought a high quality knife (or two) from the get go, we could have slowly added to our collection over time. Instead of adding more cheap knives to the mix. But we were young and didn't know any better. Eventually, we wised up. And currently, we are the proud owners of WÜSTHOF Classic knives.


This is the set that we own, but we bought ours before the most incredible santoku was added to the collection. Last year for Christmas, I bought Charlie the 5-inch santoku and I can easily say that it is by far my favorite knife in the entire collection. I could see owning two of these knives because whenever we are cooking together, we both grab for the santoku.

(Which can be quite dangerous.)

We don't own any of the WÜSTHOF steak knives, but instead own a set of Laguiole olive wood knives that we bought long before they cost as much as they do, now.

But my next favorite in the WÜSTHOF collection are the awesome pull-apart kitchen shears.

I LOVE THEM.


Except for today when my children used them to cut each other's hair less than 48-hours after everyone's hair had been professionally cut.

Even if you don't buy an entire set at once, the lovely thing about this collection (or any of the WÜSTHOF collections) is that you can add to it with time. And, in the eight years that we've owned our set, we have replaced two of the knives, free of charge, because the handles have cracked. Sure, you may be spending a little more for these knives, but with the high quality of construction and a lifetime guarantee, they very well may be the only knives you ever buy and in my opinion, that is money very well spent.

Much unlike the sum of money I spent on our children's hair cuts, a mere two days ago. But since they didn't wait to butcher each other's hair until after our Christmas photo, I'm sure whenever I lovingly gaze at our 2008 Holiday picture at any point in my life, I will instantly be reminded of just how crazy my life was living with three four-year-olds.

(Yes. I was reminded today of my then six-year-old brother, a pair of hair clippers, and the identical five-year-old French Canadian twins who had just moved in to our neighborhood and didn't speak English. As my mother so vividly recalls, those were the worst hair cuts you could ever possibly imagine. Thankfully, the fiasco at our house today wasn't quite that bad.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

wednesday waddle in

Hey there. What's up?

Have you been shopping? (in your Yuletide attire even though this is Thanksgiving because you are so excited that once we get past this holiday, Christmas is just around the bend?)


Are you cooking?

Are you tasting?

Just a bit of this and a bit of that?

Have you used five pounds of butter in the preparation of four dishes?

Have you dove in to one of your two pumpkin pies that you made from scratch and scooped out just the top portion of vanilla bean ice cream to try before serving up on Thanksgiving because surely with eight people, four of whom are little people, you aren't going to consume two whole pies?

Have you mashed your potatoes, snapped your beans, peeled your yams, brined your turkey and soaked your cranberries?


WHAT?

You don't eat cranberries?

Or worse yet, you eat cranberries from a CAN?

Oh no! That won't do at all!

If you do nothing else this Thanksgiving, please promise me that you won't eat cranberries from a can. Ocean Spray won't even mind because they just so happen to sell fresh cranberries in a bag and it is so easy to make your own cranberry sauce and it tastes so much better, you will never go back to the can again. Except when you're in a real pinch. But when you are going all-out and making a full-on turkey dinner you can spare the 20 minutes it takes to make homemade cranberry sauce.

Yes! You can do it!!

I've been making my own cranberry sauce for at least the past 10 years. This has evolved over time - some years I add more fresh fruit and berries - some years less. I love this stuff so much, I can eat it straight from the bowl. It is by far my favorite dish at Thanksgiving.

Rivaled only by sweet potato pie.

(And stuffing.)

(And warm rolls with butter and smothered in gravy.)

Here's the recipe that I whipped together today.


You'll need:

1 bag of cranberries
1 cup of orange juice (or, water)
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of fresh pineapple
A heavy dash of cinnamon
A dash (or two) of nutmeg
A dash of ground cloves
Orange zest (from a fresh orange)
~1/2 cup chopped pecans (usually I use walnuts but we didn't have any)

First you'll want to wash the cranberries - those big red, beautiful plump berries with super strong antioxidant phenols.


Then, you'll pour in a cup of water (or orange juice - both work very well although orange juice will certainly make the recipe more zingy) ...


And add a cup of sugar before bringing to a boil.


And if you have sugar that is stuck on the inside of your measuring cup, guess what works remarkably well to scoop it out cleanly?


Once this reaches a boil, add your cranberries and allow it to come to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Maybe 15. You'll know when the cranberries have all popped.


Remove from the heat and add some fresh pineapple (or canned.) I cut up a fresh pineapple today and used approximately 1 cup with the cranberries.

I have an adorable little helper with chubby cheeks that was more than happy to help me polish off the remaining pineapple. He is so sweet I swear I could eat him whole.


I like to add nuts to my cranberry sauce to give it texture. Typically, I'll use walnuts but since we didn't pick any up at the store today (which I really cannot believe because I was pretty sure we bought one of everything), I used pecans.


And then I will add a few dashes of nutmeg, ground cloves and cinnamon. I don't really have any exact measurements here - I typically will dash a bit, try a bit and dash more until I get a flavor that I really like. I grate approximately 1/4 tsp of fresh orange peel directly in to the fruity concoction, mix it all together and sprinkle the top with a few more nuts.

This is what it takes to fill my heart.

No, really.

The cranberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools, so don't be dismayed if it's runny.

Now, on the "other" heart front, I went running twice this week. Not far. Just to the mailbox located 100 feet away. But I SPRINTED. Because it was RAINING. And, I did push ups on three separate occasions because the children wanted to know why my arms were wiggly.

WIGGLY.

Now, I must scamper off to bed because tomorrow the whole family will be out the door at 6:30 AM to participate in Father Joe's annual Turkey Trot. Provided we don't sleep in and polish off the rest of a pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Banish the thought!!

BANISH IT!!

*****
How are you doing with your goals?

And probably, more importantly, what is your favorite Thanksgiving food?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

all aboard the poop express

When I brought Henry in for his one-year-checkup back in July, I had a long talk with our pediatrician regarding what to do with a child who refuses to go poop in the potty.

He told me what I already knew, which is that some children take longer to train than others. But if I was concerned, I should bring her in for an evaluation.

Which I did.

That was four months ago.

After his evaluation, he determined that this was a behavioral issue, not a medical issue and he suggested that I put her on the potty throughout the day and reinforce that this is where she needs to go.

When that didn't work, and after I had that one particularly regretful incident where I put her on the potty for four and a half hours one night (I really don't recommend that), I called our pediatrician and asked what other advice he might offer.

Maybe there was a pill I could take and I'd automatically wake up when it was over?

Unfortunately, no. But he suggested I contact a pediatric psychiatrist.

So I did.

Twice.

But they never called back. And maybe I should have just driven the one-hour north to the pediatric psychiatrist's office and stood outside of their door and demanded an appointment, but something told me that this was something that she would outgrow.

I just needed to give it more time and have more patience.

In the meantime, I talked with her teachers at school and told them the struggles that I was having and perhaps they could help to encourage her. And I talked to her at length about why she wouldn't go. And for that matter, why she wouldn't put forth the effort to get dressed by herself or buckle her own seat belt or a host of other things that her same-aged siblings were chomping at the bit to do on their own. And for all of these things and more, she would tell me, "I'm afraid!" or "I can't!"

So when I received a progress report from her swimming instructor that said "You need to have more self confidence and not be afraid because you can do anything you set your mind to!" it just reaffirmed that the challenges that I am facing on so many fronts are entirely psychological.

All the while, at night time, whenever we would put her in a Pull-Up before bed, she would poop. If not at night, than early in the morning before school. So I would give her a bag of wipes and she would go in to the bathroom, take off her Pull-Up and clean herself up. Because I told her that I wasn't going to do it anymore. And she was fine with that.

If it was only that easy, it would be one thing.

But it wasn't.

If she was a little younger and I could put her in a onesie or her pajamas on backwards, that would be another thing.

But she isn't.

And more times than I count, I have been faced with sheets, pillows, blankets and walls that have poop smeared on them. And the poop! The poop! The poop! was starting to drive me a little crazy, despite my best efforts and staying calm and practicing deep breathing.

So this past weekend, I decided to help her. Not by punishing her, but by showing her that she can go poop. On the potty. I was temporarily assuming control of a situation that had grown completely out of control. So I gave her the enema on Saturday and she has never pooped so much in her life.

And last night (two days later), I told her that I was going to give her another enema. But the words no sooner left my mouth and she RAN in to the bathroom and in less than a minute, created yet another poop masterpiece.

Everyone was so excited about the pooping and the peeing and how grown up they are, against my better judgment, I caved to the pressure of letting the four-year-old children in this house go to bed sans diapers, wearing only underwear beneath their PJ's.

And of course, despite placing three groggy children on the potty before I went to bed at 11:00 PM, I woke up at 3, 4 and 5 AM to three different children that were crying and crying and crying because they were WET! WET! WET!

Everyone was miserable. So I figure I'll put everyone back in Pull-Ups until they are at a point where they wake up at night to use the potty. Or, they wake up dry. Which ever comes first.

I suspect that by the time Henry is transitioning out of diapers, I will be an expert. But as for now, I am figuring it out as I go and washing an exorbitant amount of laundry in the process.

Monday, November 24, 2008

i must be getting sick

I'm easily agitated these days.

It really doesn't take much to get under my skin.

So yesterday morning when I woke up after having just changed all the sheets on the beds in the house the night before, to clean sheets that had poop smears all over them, because one of my children REFUSES to go poop in the potty and instead inspects the content of their bottom and then RUBS their hands all over their sheets, comforter and pillows, I lost it a little bit.

I told my child that if they didn't complete the rest of their pooping in the potty, I was going to give them an enema. And four hours later, that's exactly what I did, despite the worst fit I've ever seen my child throw in their entire life. And I learned a few very important lessons about giving an enema to a child that hasn't had a complete evacuation in probably the last 14 months.

First, even though the box says that the urge to go will be extremely great after a mere five minutes, don't be surprised if you have a head-strong four-year-old that they will hold it for fifty five minutes, which I can only suspect contributes more to the laxative effect.

Second, when that first slug of poop comes out, and you might think that it's over?

It's not over.


Not by a loooong shot.


Third, it's best not to put a child who has just had an enema in your bed to take a nap. Because the chances are quite great that it will look like a poop bomb went off in your pristine bedroom and bathroom. And when you are on your hands and knees scrubbing poop off the floor and poop fingerprints off your cabinets and sink and walls, you will shake your fist at what was probably Karma.

So today, we decided to get rid of our old couch that we've had for the past 12 years. And I'm not sure what really came over me us, but once we moved our old couch out in to the garage and were trying to figure out what we would put in it's place, we were struck with an insatiable desire to shake things up.

The layout of our house was designed so that we could have a living room, dining room, nook and family room. This configuration would work great if only one or two people lived here and you had teeny tiny furniture. Even when there were only two of us, I've never really liked that this house has so many small rooms. And I particularly never liked the six foot by seven foot space that was slated by the builders as a "dining room."

For who?

ELVES?

After five hours of moving furniture and another five hours spent at a furniture store to select a sideboard and media center that will be delivered within the next month (Merry Christmas to us! Our shopping for each other is done!), what was once our family room has now been transformed in to our spacious dining room. And what was once our dining room and living room is now our spacious family room. Suddenly, instead of having four small rooms, we have two HUGE rooms.

I have a new found love for this house which is good because to move right now would be financial suicide. I also have a crick in my neck from exerting myself so completely today and a dent in my wallet from making a few purchases to compliment our new "living space."

So tonight, I come home and I'm checking my e-mail as is often the case at night. And I'm struck with how many comments I've received over the past week that I've let get under my skin. Now I know that when I share my life with the world, I am allowing people in that may be of the extremely lame persuasion, so that's a risk that needs to be weighed before I hit "post."

Still, it bites a nerve when I receive feedback that comes under the guise of friendly, but which I know is judgmental criticism. Usually I just delete these comments, but what with the lack of sleep and pooping all over the house, and stress of trying to figure out what to do with work, relocation, preschool and four-year-olds that challenge just about EVERYTHING I say and do, I'm easily agitated these days.

See. I said it again!

Of course, there was the comment I received last week wherein someone called me ignorant. Then there was a comment I received yesterday wherein someone suggested that I am an excessive spender. And then, there was the comment I received today wherein someone wanted to know how I maintain an alcoholic lifestyle and still breastfeed my baby. Please do tell!!

Well, let's see.

Now please bear with me, because I am a prejudiced halfwit who likes to throw money out the window with one hand while drinking VAST quantities of wine with the other and trying not to fumble my suckling baby who is cradled to my chest with my knees.

With four small children and two part-time jobs, we are extremely careful with our finances. Not that we really need to justify this to anyone, but we save 15% of what we earn in a 401K, 5% (it's actually 10%!!) in a savings account, we use coupons wherever possible and we do our absolute best to use cash or pay off any credit cards each and every month.

I think what might be confusing is that when we do buy things, we buy nice things, quality things that will probably be passed down to our grandchildren. However, we do not spend money in excess.

(Well, except today. But Charlie insisted on the flat screen 52-inch HDTV.)

On average, I will have one glass of wine three or maybe four times a week. The last time I had a glass of wine was when Charlie was out of town. And for those four nights that he was gone, I had a glass of wine every single night. By myself!

I do not pump.

I do not dump.

I do not drink more than a glass of wine per night.

I do not drink a glass of wine every night.

I typically do not drink wine immediately before I breastfeed but guess what?

Sometimes I do.


But if not for a glass of wine a few nights a week, I would probably be in a constant state of agitation. And you know, some might argue that allowing your toddler to sit on a dining room table and watch back-to-back Christmas movies while you rearrange furniture is far more harmful than the risk of alcohol ingestion via breastmilk, from one glass of wine, that isn't fully metabolized.

Now if you have any other inquisitive! inquiries! please leave me your name and telephone number and I'll call you at my earliest opportunity. Although I can't rightly say what I might call you since my mother reads this blog.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

favorite thing friday

Now that the holidays are rapidly approaching, I would be positively remiss to not share one of my absolute favorite kitchen gadgets.

Oh, I can hear the laughter. But wait a minute. These aren't just any spatulas!

These are Williams Sonoma silicone spatulas (and spoonulas) and please trust me when I say that they are the absolute best spatulas ever made. I bought these spatulas at least six years ago as a stocking stuffer, because it turns out, spatulas make a phenomenal and practical gift.

Especially ...

When they come ...


In a variety of festive colors...

To match different decors.


The reason that these spatulas are so great is because they hold up to the most intense heat (800°F) without melting. And, the head of the spatula can come off so that they can easily be washed by hand or in the dishwasher.

We use these extremely durable spatulas every day and they show no sign of wear or tear. Although they may cost more than a traditional spatula, they are worth every last penny spent. And as great as the spatulas are, I especially love the spoonula which I use for everything from scooping batter out of bowls, to scrambling and serving eggs straight out of the pan.

(Speaking of pans, if you happen to use Teflon, these spatulas won't scratch - so they work great for stirring.)

I don't see that Williams Sonoma carries the stainless steel handle variety anymore that we own, but the maple handles can be monogrammed with up to 24 characters. I think personalized spatulas would make a great gift for anyone, particularly children who love to help in the kitchen.


If you are looking for a smaller sized spatula, you could always go for the mini silicone variety which includes both a mini spatula and mini spoonula.
We use the minis just as frequently as we use the larger spatulas and they work great for scooping peanut butter and jelly out of jars and for smoothing butter in to our crock. The minis come with a metal fastener that can be used to secure the two of them together.

Or, you can conveniently clip them to your waistband if you are looking to make a fun culinary fashion statement.

Friday, November 21, 2008

political correctness and over generalizations

We live in an environment that is as racially, culturally and socially diverse as any environment could be. And ever since we have moved to San Diego, for the first time in my life, I have felt like a minority.

Or rather, definitely not part of the majority.

In a neighborhood that is very close to the Mexican border, we live on a street where there are 12 homes.

There are two Caucasian families.

And two Mexican families.

One Japanese family.

One Filipino family.

And one African American family.

There is one family where a Filipino man is married to a Mexican woman.

One family where a Chinese woman is married to a Vietnamese man.

One family where an African American woman is married to a Caucasian man.

One family where a Caucasian man is married to an Indian woman.

And there is a homosexual couple who just moved in from Ohio.

Our children's pediatrician is African American.

Our children's pediatric dentist is Filipino.

Our dentist is Italian.

Our optometrist is Brazilian.

My husband's primary care physician is Mexican.

My primary care physician is Polish.

My hairdresser is Mexican.

My husband's former boss was a lesbian.

One of my husband's largest clients is a Native American Indian tribe.

My former boss was Mormon.

Our gardener is Mexican.

With the exception of our financial advisor, the only Caucasian people that we frequently interface with are the checkers and baggers at the grocery store.

"What's up homey?! Shore those goods up in paper, won't you please?!"


Because I have lived in several parts of the country and have been exposed to such diverse populations over my lifetime, I have learned about a lot of different cultures. And I have really enjoyed learning about these different cultures because they are so unlike my own and they usually serve up some amazing food.

In the course of my life, I have formed some opinions. And I try as hard as I might, to not make any broad sweeping over generalizations. Because I know that not all people, circumstances or situations are the same.

But my experiences are what create my reality.

My reality is that in general, people do not make comments as they pertain to a person's skin color, ethnicity or religion for fear that they will be perceived as prejudicial.

My reality is that people stumble and fall all over themselves in an attempt to remain politically correct and although I believe it is important to be respectful of people and cultures different from your own, it is fully acceptable to talk about those differences.

My reality is that people who have recently come to this country as immigrants, are among the hardest working people I've ever met.

My reality is that a lot of people, regardless of ethnicity, don't believe that rules apply to them and they have a sense of entitlement, unjustified superiority and are terrible drivers.

My reality is that a lot of people, regardless of ethnicity, are wholesome, beautiful, caring, compassionate souls and I strive to be more like them.

My reality is that the homosexual couples that I know that are raising families are among the most loving, wonderful people I've ever had the opportunity to meet and their children are lucky.

My reality is that Filipino and Mexican people are intensely proud of their heritage(s), they strive to be honorable and form strong communities and some of the tightness knit families I've ever witnessed.

My reality is that when I lived in the south, I noticed that there were higher levels of obesity and fried food consumption than anywhere else in the U.S. But I also grew to love Cajun chicken and biscuits unlike any food on earth.

My reality is that those people who most embrace their faith, were raised in that faith and the foundation of their beliefs run very deep. And sadly, I don't think that there is as much tolerance in this world as there should be.

My reality is that unlike other parts of the U.S., it can be very difficult to meet and get to know your neighbors in California. But once you know them, there is a good chance they'll become your friends for life. Even if you have opposing views on Prop 8.

My reality is that I love New York and almost all of the people I've ever met from that state. But try as I might, I can not understand why anyone would back the Yankees. (Oh, come on! I'm kidding!)

My reality is that the Mormon faith is downright inspirational considering all of the Mormon families I know have three or more children and don't drink wine.

Since we've become parents, Charlie and I have met a lot of people. It seems children have a way of drawing you out of your social shell and attracting you to people unlike anything else.

Maybe it is our need to feel like we are part of a community - or maybe we just generate a lot of attention wherever we go. But whatever the case, we have developed a very solid network of friends with similarly aged children. Our friends - and subsequently, our children's friends - hail from very diverse backgrounds.

In interacting with different families, we see how they are raising their children. Some of their parental techniques might be dictated by traditional cultural influence. Some techniques might be dictated by modernism. We borrow ideas that we think might apply for our circumstances. And we try not to judge people's parenting methodologies.

But sometimes, we do.

Our children's Montessori school is run by a woman who is Mexican. With the exception of the food policy (or lack thereof), it is my conclusion that this school adheres to the Montessori philosophy.

Our children's Montessori school frequently serves snacks that consist of brownies, cream filled chocolate cookies and Fruit Loops. They condone birthday parties where donuts and goody bags filled with candy are distributed to all the students in the class.

They had a Halloween parade with a piñata.

In a post that I wrote yesterday I said, "I believe that the emphasis on "healthy" nutrition is not as advanced in Mexico as it is in other parts of the world."

I'm not surprised that someone left me a comment on that post in which they told me that my opinion regarding Hispanics was ignorant. In general, sweeping terms, I would totally agree that my comment would appear ignorant and unjustified. In fact, in looking at how I prefaced this statement, it does seem inappropriate. So to anyone that might have been offended, I apologize.

However.

In this particular case. In this particular geographic location. With this particular school. With this particular student body. And this particular administration. The comment that I made appears to be the only logical explanation.

When a school subscribes to the Montessori philosophy, except in the way of nutrition, what other conclusion should I draw? Is the school trying to save a buck by serving up snacks that have no nutritional value? Is the administration just plain lazy? Is it of any relevance at all, that the teachers and over 90% of the student body are Mexican?

Personally, I believe it is.


Although, I also believe that people of any ethnicity can and do feed their children food that is loaded in sugar or devoid of nutritional value.

In recent years, there have been a lot of Mexican families that have fled in to the United States (and our neighborhood) to escape kidnappers in Tijuana. Random individuals have been targeted for kidnappings and held hostage until their families can come up with ransom.

I personally know two people that have been affected by this horrific variety of crime. My hairdresser's brother-in-law lost his hand when the family could not come up with $25,000.00 and a neighbor lost her husband when the family did not come up with money fast enough.

To be ignorant is to lack knowledge.

I know that a few of the students that attend Montessori with our children have recently fled to the U.S. from Mexico.

I know that a few of the children still live in Mexico and are driven up to school everyday.

I know that the Director has told me that she has not wanted to offend anyone who wants to bring treats to school, so she has endorsed them to do so.

I know that the Director has further told me that she serves the food that she does because the majority of children will eat it and it is comparable to the food that the parents pack in their lunch boxes.

The majority of the children happen to be of Mexican descent.

For all I know, the majority of children live on restricted sugar diet and are being sent to school with hummus and pita bread. But that would not be consistent with what the Director has told me, nor what I have seen coming home in my own children's lunch boxes from the parties that they are having at school.

There are studies showing that good nutrition is directly linked to poverty levels. And the fact is, Mexico is a third world country. And even though many of the families may be well educated and have the financial means to send their children to Montessori, I do not believe that they are embracing a healthy nutritional lifestyle.

I don't know, but I suspect that the school has ties and a history with several of the families that send their children to Montessori and they do not want to lose that support.

It is my opinion, that in this particular case, the culture of the people running the school trumps the culture of the Montessori philosophy. I believe that understanding the culture of any entity that runs a school - or business - or church, lends a degree of insight as to why things might be done the way that they are.

I also know that our Montessori has obtained a license in order to operate in California and there are regulations governing preschool facilities. And although it is not my intention to rock the boat, I do believe it is necessary to find out whether or not our school is in compliance with State requirements.

Because although I know what food is being served to the children, there are some parents who may not. And if I had a child in the toddler room, I would absolutely want to know that just this morning, they were served Cocoa Puffs.

Now because I am mentally depleted from writing this post - which I've been thinking about all day - I am going to go indulge on something sweet.

My husband perhaps, since he just came home.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

wednesday weigh in

Charlie has been out of town for the past four days. Although there have been some crazy times, like when Henry wouldn't stop crying for three days straight and had an average temperature of 102 degrees ... and when the toilet in our bathroom overflowed moments after the kitchen cabinet fell of it's hinges and I had to dig out a plunger and a screwdriver to complete repairs while also trying to supervise children who get in to things ... this has been a really fun week.

I love being with these kids.

Even when I set up a paint station and less than two minutes in to it, the baby (who I hadn't planned on having paint but who climbed up in his chair and clearly wanted to participate) smartly mixes yellow and blue for green.


And instantly transforms himself in to a little Hulk.


And one of my children who was given specific instructions to go rinse off her hands in the sink, decided instead to give her brother's FAVORITE TOY a bath. So now Buzz Lightyear sounds like Little Bo Peep meets E.T., because oddly enough, battery operated toys don't fare too well when submerged in water.


My schedule this week has been so full that I've really had no time to myself. When I'm not holding a crying baby - I'm cleaning up - or driving to or from school - or taking the children to gymnastics or swimming or on a bus trip to an outing - or cooking - or visiting the Pediatrician - or grocery shopping - or researching various preschools - or writing 26 thank you notes. Which should have been written a month ago, but I only recently was able to sneak out and buy the $0.01 stamps that were necessary to bump the $0.41 stamps I have on hand up to the requisite $0.42 postage value.

Am I the only one that no sooner buys a big roll of stamps and the very next day, the postage rate changes? I'm telling you ... it happens to me all the time.

The only reason I was able to unload my thoughts twice today on my blog was because Henry was sound asleep on my lap and to move him would be to wake him and considering my poor baby has been unable to sleep or eat all week ... I wasn't going to even bother risking a transfer to his crib.

Even though I have a 5K run I'm supposed to participate in next week for a local homeless shelter , I haven't done any running this week. I have done my Yoga tape twice and before Charlie left on his trip, I went for a few early morning power walks with my neighbor. But since my husband has been gone, I haven't really done anything aerobic.

Well, except DASH to the grocery store with four children in tow when I heard that a carton of Dreyer's ice cream was on sale for $4.00.


Yes, I know that the hypocrisy continues.

But enough about me.

How are you doing with your goals?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

retitled: is nothing sacred?

On the days that the children have swimming lessons immediately after school, I will bring them in to the dressing room to get ready. But sometimes, if I'm in a pinch, I will get them in to their bathing suits while we are still in the car, before heading in to the YMCA.

Yesterday, I was feeling a little frazzled, so I dressed them while we were still in the parking lot. I had just finished putting Carolyn and William in their suits, and placed them outside of the car, while I tried to finish getting a very difficult Elizabeth ready.

Just then, an elderly woman walked up to the car next to us and opens the trunk.

Instantly, she was descended upon by four-year-olds who talk and talk and talk.

They wanted to know her name. They told her their names, their full names. They wanted to know if she was a girl or a boy. They wanted to know what she dressed up for at Halloween. They thought it was important to tell her, as they stood beside her and sized her up, that she would make a really good giant. They wanted to know if she was their Grandmother. They wanted to know if she had a baby in her tummy. They wanted to know what she was having for dinner. They wanted to tell her that they were four-years-old, not three, and they stood there in their little bathing suits and shoes, awkwardly holding out four little fingers.

"This many. This is how old I am."

William told the woman all about his imaginary friend, Tresiam. Elizabeth pointed out her new bathing suit. And Carolyn felt compelled to tell this absolute stranger that mommy was angry and she spanked Elizabeth because Elizabeth kept kicking her shoes in to the parking lot that mommy had just put on and mommy said, "YOU KNOCK IT OFF!"

All of these conversations were happening simultaneously.

She was being bombarded by four-year-old chatter.

It was outrageously funny for me to see the dazed look that washed over the woman's face. She didn't know who to listen to or what to say. She just stood there, gripping her cane tightly and saying "Oh, my dear Lord! Oh, my dear Lord!"

Tomorrow, I'll be dressing the children in the locker room.

"That's it. Close the door and be very, very quiet!"


With all that has been happening with preschool, for the past several days, I've been telling the children that I don't want them to eat the food that the school provides. I've even gone so far as to tell them that I am thinking about taking them out of school and teaching them at home. When I've asked them what they think of that idea, William will get excited and say, "Mommy! I'd love it if you teach me!! You teach me, Mom?!"

So this morning while we were at school, the children stride up to the front gate, and while I'm holding a fussy and wriggling Henry, William tells the Director that he doesn't eat JUNK, Carolyn tells the Director that mommy was angry and spanked Elizabeth for kicking off her shoes at the YMCA, and Elizabeth pipes up that mommy is going to teach us at HOME.

I really must temper what I say and how I act around these children. Soon, they'll be telling the whole world that mommy had wine and ice cream for dinner last night and let the baby eat yogurt straight out of the carton.

And then almost all of my flaws will be revealed.

and to think, this is only preschool

Yesterday when I dropped the triplets off at school, Elizabeth didn't want to go. She laid down on the pavement and kicked her legs. Fortunately, I had captured a prime parking spot in front of the school and Henry was sound asleep in his carseat. So I scooped up my crying child and carried her 30 feet to the gate, while Henry snoozed on.

William and Carolyn ran in to their classrooms to drop off their lunch boxes and as I was signing the children in, I could feel the panic start to rise in my chest when after scanning the crowd of children, I could only see two of the triplets. Just as I was about to call out to the teachers that were congregated outside of their rooms if they'd seen Elizabeth, her assistant teacher actually took her from my arms and said, "Hi Sweetie! I'm so happy to see you today!"

That's right. She was in my arms, still crying, and I was so exhausted I didn't even realize it. Maybe because I've been holding a crying baby all day every day since Sunday and Elizabeth weighs only slightly more.

Once Elizabeth saw her teacher, she brightened up and I felt a pang of guilt that I have been thinking such negative thoughts about a school that really is quite nice. When I drop our children off, I generally leave with the feeling that they are in a good environment where they will have fun, explore, and play. I feel like they are well supervised and the teachers are capable.

Although, it doesn't seem that the head teachers in the girls classrooms are nearly as capable as William's teacher. When I visited the classes during the birthday parties, I was swept away by how wonderful William's teacher appeared. Yet, when I sat in on the girls parties, Elizabeth's teacher seemed almost unfriendly, and Carolyn's teacher didn't seem to have a handle on her class. Interestingly enough, it was William's teacher that both Charlie and I observed during our interview of the school. We suspect that the Director realizes just how good she is and how well her classroom comes off to prospective families. Moreover, all of the children whose parents appear the most involved, are also in this particular class.

From what I have seen, read and heard, I do like that the children are engaged in traditional Montessori activities for a solid two hours a day.

But.

I don't like the commute to school. Spending almost two hours a day driving and picking the children up is asinine. I also don't like the full-time schedule. Having six hours a day apart from the children certainly has it's advantages. But I don't like being separated from my four-year-old children for the better part of their waking hours, five days a week. I'm working part-time so I can be home with our children and yet 3/4 of our children are gone most of the day.

I don't like that the school is not challenging itself - or the families that fork over large sums of money - to provide better, healthier snacks. I don't like that birthday parties and holidays are a free for all, where candy is passed around like ... candy.

I don't like that when I have spoken to the teachers and Director on several separate occasions, they have attempted to downplay my concerns. I don't like that they do not appear willing to provide more nutritious food and establish rules regarding the food that parents can and cannot bring to school for their children - or their children's classmates.

I know that these issues that I am having with our school are limited to our school and are not characteristic of the Montessori program, in general. I know this, because one day last week, I called several Montessori schools scattered around the country and spoke with a lot of different Directors. And all of them were appalled that our school would serve Fruit Loops and Oreo cookies as a snack.

Even if it was only "once a week."

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you would know that coming to the conclusion that we would send our children to school was no easy task for me. Researching and selecting a school was even more challenging because Charlie and I made the conscious decision when our triplets were born that we didn't want to place them in daycare. We adjusted our careers so that we could both take an active roll in raising our children. But beginning last year, I could see that what our children were beginning to need, was more than what I could provide.

I could see that they needed more structure, more individual quiet time, more instruction from a source other than their parents. I could see that I needed help because it didn't seem possible that I could positively engage them, without wanting to negatively disengage them from the atmosphere.

(If you know what I mean.)

(If you've ever had three-year-old triplets, I'm sure that you do.)

We researched preschools and we ultimately decided upon Montessori because we were greatly impressed with how grounded and involved the children appeared to be. And we selected the Montessori school we did, because from what we could tell, it was the best in our area.

From what I could tell, it was the only "real" one in our area.

It's important to note that at no point was I looking for daycare for our triplets. Sure, it would be an added benefit that I would have a few hours alone with Henry several times a week. But what I specifically wanted was a structured, disciplined and engaging environment that offered more than what I could provide to our children at home.

I wasn't looking for someone to simply watch them.

I was looking for someone that could supplement the love of learning that Charlie and I were attempting to instill. Some people might say that Montessori is too rigid. But when you are a triplet - your home life can often be anything but rigid - so I was also looking for a program that would provide the children a disciplined space where they could grow and learn.

I was looking for a good quality education for our children and for me.

I was looking to the school to set examples.

And although I could recreate a lot of the preschool classrooms I observed, the Montessori classroom was absolutely not something that I could recreate in our home. So I went back to work and have been writing exorbitantly large checks to cover tuition, ever since.

Like every parent, I want what is best for our children.

Although currently, I feel overwhelmed with the choices I have to make. I feel myself get pulled in to the realm of private schools - and then I find myself becoming convinced to give them the BEST of life, I must send them there. I know this train of thinking is ignorant and if I really ponder it long enough, I'll realize just how flawed it is. I know that there are other programs around that would probably provide just as good, if not better, preschool experience for our children. But, I really do love Montessori and sincerely want for our children to have the experience.

I'm just disappointed that our school isn't everything that I thought it would be.

I'm disappointed our school isn't more like this one.

This is my first time down this parenting road so I am constantly doing an assessment of what is important and what is not. I try to be an advocate for my children. Not a control freak.

But it troubles me that the Director who when confronted with my concerns, indicated that there was one other child whose parents were like "that" and any of the issues I had could be resolved by sending in a private stash of snacks for my children. It was her position that they didn't want to change their snack options because they wanted to provide food that they knew the children would eat and enjoy. So if we are to stay in this program, I need to tell my children to not look at the chocolate cookies that little Domenic is eating.

Or the Fruit Loops that Paige is separating in to clusters based on color.

I think I've mentioned that the Montessori school our children attend is largely Hispanic.

Largely, as in upwards of 90%.

Whenever we drop the kids off at school, we are surrounded by fancy cars with Mexican plates. From what I can tell, very few parents speak English as their primary language. The reason that I mention this (and I sincerely hope I don't offend anyone) is because I believe that the emphasis on "healthy" nutrition is not as advanced in Mexico as it is in other parts of the world. And I believe that because the student population is predominantly Hispanic (as are all of the teachers), it is important that the school caters to the wants of the majority.

In the almost three months that our children have been in school, I've met and spoken with only one other parent. And when I spoke with her on Friday morning, I cut right to the chase. Our conversation went something like this, "Hi, I'm Jen. My son William is in your son's class. So, I was wondering, what do you think of the snacks?"

She told me that her son had been at a Waldorf school in San Diego and when she first interviewed this school, she was quite surprised to see that they were feeding the children Ruffle potato chips (POTATO CHIPS!). But, because she only sends her son part-time, he isn't really affected and she feels like the school is so good on the whole that their snacks are of little to no consequence to her overall opinion.

Meanwhile, I'm freaking out. Me, the one that just this morning, snuck a huge oatmeal cookie in to my gullet for breakfast when the children weren't looking.

See, I know how easy it is to eat poorly. It is so easy to eat a half tray of O'Henry bars for lunch. It is so easy to swing by a drive through on your way home. It is so easy to cave to the convenience of bringing donuts to school as opposed to banana bread. Or carrot cake. And once you start eating and feeding "easy" food to children, the healthy food becomes less and less appealing.

By and large, we try to eat healthy at home. I know we could do better, but that is one of the primary reasons why I want our children's school to supplement and enhance what we are teaching our children at home. I want for our impressionable children to be surrounded by good influences. Influences that on this particular front will hopefully be better than me.

Influences that will inspire me.



This past weekend, we had plans to go on a beautiful hike out at one of the local beaches. I had packed a small picnic and stored it in William's lunch box, which was then tossed in to our large backpack. Included with the cheese sticks, carrot sticks, apples, whole wheat crackers, and ice water I had packed, was a 5-oz Hershey's chocolate bar, that I slipped in to the mesh pocket at the front of the lunchbox. A little something that we could enjoy at the conclusion of our hike.

A motivation, if you will, to get tired children who can't take another step, back to the car.

When I picked the children up from school and loaded them in to the car yesterday, William mentioned that he cried and cried (and cried) in class. When I asked why he cried, he said that his teacher wouldn't let him eat his candy bar. At first, I misunderstood and assumed that he was disappointed that he wasn't able to enjoy the snack that the rest of the class was enjoying. But then, I remembered the chocolate bar that I had slipped in to his lunch box on Saturday and completely forgotten about.

I can only imagine what the teachers at the school must think of me.

Here I am, specifically requesting that they NOT feed my children any of the sweets that they serve up to the rest of the student body and yet, I send my son to school with a chocolate bar that is the size of his forearm.

Yes. I realize that is hypocrisy at it's finest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

one

One parent in charge of four children under the age of five.

One parent on a business trip luxury vacation 3,000 miles away.

One child that insists on wearing a Buzz Lightyear costume 18 hours out of the day.

One child that was placed on this earth to drive ME insane.

One child that poops in their underwear.

One toilet that was clogged with almost 1/2 a roll of toilet paper.

One kitchen cabinet that fell completely off it's hinges.

One baby that has been running a fever of 100 to 104 since early Sunday morning.

One mother that has held one crying baby almost non stop for three days.

One hour of consecutive sleep.

One Pediatrician that could find nothing wrong with one baby.

One bad virus.

One teaspoon of Tylenol alternating with Motrin prescribed every three hours.

One hour driving time to drop children off at school and return home.

One hour driving time to pick children up at school and return home.


One work laptop that has sat unopened in two days.

One house that looks like it has been dumped upside down and shaken hard.

One well rested husband that called at one particularly bad moment and temporarily lost hearing in one ear.

One more reason to live closer to family.

Monday, November 17, 2008

i have no idea what i'm doing

Friday I drove the children to school and the whole way there, I was having a mock conversation with the Director.

Before I had left home, Charlie had given me strict instructions to not be confrontational and although I certainly didn't want to come off as confrontational, I was a little nervous that once I started talking, I wouldn't be able to stop talking and I might say some things that may not be considered very nice.

Things like, "What kind of Cracker Jack joint are you running here, where you think it's acceptable to feed small children crap with zero nutritional value?"

Not that I would spout something like that, but it was very close to the front of my mind. So I needed to really practice what I was going to say beforehand, because even though I felt timid talking to the Director, if one of those less-than-tactful thoughts came in to my head, my vocal chords might grab them and run.

Because, hey you know what? My children are my top priority and it is my job to do everything in my power to make sure that they are nourished and cherished. And the fact that I'm struggling with guilt that I have them in school at all, is irrelevant.

So I rehearsed what I wanted to say and the segues leading from one point to the next, the whole 25 minute drive to school. The children sat in the backseat, completely quiet, until I would take a pause to collect my next train of thought, and then they'd ask, "Mommy? You not like cookies? You not like brownies and donuts?"

Oh my sweet children.

Of course I like cookies!

And brownies!!


And donuts!!!

I love ALL of those things. Probably a little more than I should. And don't even get me started on my love of ice cream. I could write sonnets about my love of ice cream. I eat it almost every single night and have been known to go to the store at 10:30 PM just to get a fix.

But that's the thing about hypocrisy. Or, more specifically, the desire that my children will have a better grasp and appreciation of healthy food, than me.

Heather left me a comment on my post regarding my concern with the food they are serving at Montessori and asked, "Wait... wait... wait... didn't YOU take donuts to school when it was the kids turn for their party??"

She is right. And although I will take responsibility for contributing to the "bad food" environment on two of the three birthday parties for our children, I remain disappointed that the school specifically requested that I bring donuts in the first place.

Now without this turning in to a long post about how I wish that I could always make healthy food choices, I will admit that I was really hoping, expecting, anticipating that this "high quality" school would be able to help me, as a parent, establish and foster healthy eating habits in our children. I'll go so far as to say that I was anticipating that *I* would actually learn a thing or two regarding nutrition from the school that I could apply to our family, at large.

So when I arrived at the school and I spoke to the Director (er, Directress, a grandmotherly type who started this school 20 years ago and treats it like her home), I started off by saying I felt negligent that I didn't research their snack policy and menu before I sent the children to school full time (or at all, for that matter). I wrongly assumed that it would be at least consistent with what I've heard and read regarding other preschools.

The Director replied that the school offers the children healthy snacks every day and once (or twice) a week, they provide a sweet snack in the form of cookies or brownies. And on some mornings, they also provide a sugared cereal such as Fruit Loops.

Call me a prude but ideally, I'd prefer that our children's preschool not offer up Fruit Loops as a morning snack. It probably won't hurt them, but never once have I served them such sugar-laden cereal, and I don't want to start now.

I would like for our children to be in an environment where they learn to care for their body, mind and planet. I would prefer that the school sets a high standard for good nutrition and requests that the parents conform to that standard by not sending their children to school with Happy Meals.

(As apparently, many parents at our children's school have been known to do.)

The Director further told me that if I have concerns, she will make sure that our children don't receive any snacks from the school and instead, I can supply all of the snacks that I want for them to consume. And I was thinking that if I have concerns, I SHOULDN'T HAVE CONCERNS for the amount of money that we are spending to send our children there.

It actually surprised me that when I left the parking lot 10 minutes later, my children weren't back in their carseats and on their way home.

I don't want to over react and I fear I might be heading that direction.

Still, I told the Director that I will be sending snacks to school and I want to sit in on a class to observe our children. She said that we aren't scheduled to observe our children until the middle of February and I replied that February is too long to wait and I would be coming in to school the first week of December and I want to observe each of our three children in their respective classes. I also want to have conferences with each of the teachers regarding our children's progress. And although I didn't tell the Director this, if I am not completely satisfied following those meetings, I am going to pull the kids out of that Cracker Jack joint.

In hindsight, although I feel like I did a lot of research, I didn't do nearly as much as I should have. Sure, the teachers are all Montessori certified and Charlie and I were both impressed (to tears) when we sat in and observed the classes. But, the food thing really bothers me. And I don't think we I considered how difficult it would be to be away from the children for such a large chunk of time during the day. Part time was too difficult with the commuting. And I didn't think about how that drive back and forth (and back and forth) to school can take upwards of an hour each day. And although I thought about it, I didn't really THINK about how it would feel to write a check every month for tuition.

Oh dear gracious the tuition.

TIMES THREE.

Now if the parent-teacher conference yields that our children are thriving, I'll keep them in school. Otherwise, within the past week, I've looked in to several other options for schools around our neighborhood. I've also looked in to homeschooling and although I like the idea of homeschooling, there are certain children in our family that make me batty and I would truly fear for my mental stability if they were with me all day every day. I've also contemplated hiring a real live teacher to come in and instruct the children for three hours a day, in ... uh ... I don't know.

The bathroom? Closet? Garage?

Meanwhile, Charlie left this morning for a business trip to Washington, DC.

His shuttle to the airport arrived at 5:30 AM. At approximately 5:29 AM, he deposited a fussy and hot Henry in to my arms along with a bottle of infant Tylenol.

Of course it happens the very first day of my husband's five day business trip, my baby's temperature fluctuates between 100 and 104. And two of my three four-year-olds are complaining that they don't feel well.

Of course it happens the very first day.

My mother called me a few days ago to ask whether or not I had any one lined up to come help while Charlie was out of town. I told her that although I have the names of a few sitters, I would hopefully, be fine on my own. Mom then said that Charlie will have a great time away and this break will be good to help re-fuel his batteries.

When I asked, what about me, don't I deserve a break? My mother very matter of factly said, "Oh come on, Jen. You just had break. Remember?" I hesitated before responding, "No, I don't remember. What are you talking about?" Mom answered, "You had a break a few weeks ago when you sat down with all of those attorneys!"

I snorted and asked, "You seriously think being DEPOSED for a trial is considered a break? Are you kidding me? I was grilled for a full day by a team of lawyers from the opposing side of a substantial lawsuit. That's hardly the same as staying in a hotel, by yourself, with room service for five days!"

My mother very seriously replied, "Jen, you were in a fancy building with breathtaking views of the City and they brought in pastries and a catered lunch. Right? That IS a break."

Well, I suppose.

When you put it that way.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

favorite thing friday

Although I have a lot more to write regarding Montessori and the direction Charlie and I are considering with our children's future educational experience (oy vey the pressure) ... today I must use my allotted computer time to discuss one of my all-time favorite things. And I would not be discussing this particular all-time favorite thing if not for Rosemary in Australia.

G'day Rosemary! Thanks for the nice note!

Rosemary has recently returned to living in Australia from the United States and she sent me an e-mail in which she wrote, "O
ne of the big kid fashion differences I noted [relative to the United States] was that Aussie kids wear hats ALL the time. All schools, pfewlay groups {my question is, what in the world is pfewlay?}, pre-schools, child care centres have a “No Hat, No Play” policy. We do have the highest skin cancer rate in the world and it is because the sun is so darn strong most of the year, even in winter. On the other hand, most American schools that I had any contact with outlawed all headgear. So, when I see the brilliant hats your little ones wear, I’m just delighted! So, can you favourite thing Friday those hats please? My fair haired, blue eyed little bundle of sunshine would be eternally grateful."

Last night I was looking through photos and I was hard pressed to find a picture of the children in the outdoors where they were not wearing their hats. The ritual of putting a hat on whenever we go outside to play has become second nature to everyone.

We all have wide brim sun hats, every member of the family.

And we begrudgingly wear them.

PROUDLY.

(But not when we are wearing identically matching outfits. Because, you know, that would be corny.)

Much like Australia, we have a very intense sun that shines year round in San Diego. And when one of my classmates, a native Californian and bona fide "surfer dude" lost his life to melanoma at the young age of 32, I vowed that I would do better to protect myself (and any future children) from the harms of the sun. It is for that reason that I slather our children in sunscreen, full coverage bathing suits, and wide brimmed sun hats, whenever we are outdoors. It is also why I nag gently suggest that my husband wear long sleeves when he'll be outside for a full day in the sun.

Hats.

There sure are a lot of different styles to chose from.

Considering the most deadly melanoma skin cancers occur on the scalp and neck, it is my humble opinion that unless you live and play in a dark cave, everyone should have a good sunhat and use sunscreen liberally.

We are currently on our second generation of Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney hats.

(That there, above colored in red text, is a link where you can purchase these magnificent hats. Although if you live in San Diego, I will let you in on a secret. We've purchased our Columbia hats at the San Diego Zoo and with a member discount, have procured all of our hats for 10% off the suggested retail price.)

These hats are extremely durable and I recently purchased several more so that we have an ample supply of good quality hats at home and in the car. Because nothing sends me in to a tailspin faster than being out and realizing I don't have hats. That's when I have to dig in to my bag of tricks for other ingenious ways of covering up our children's fair Irish skin. (Why it is that they inherited my husband's blood type and not his beautiful olive complexion is BEYOND me.)

Although some of these ingenious tactics may or may not be conducive to seeing.

EDITED TO ADD: I should probably mention that the Columbia hats come in different sizes. The children wear the youth size; Charlie and I wear the unisex size. Both of these sizes are O/S, or "one size". But obviously, the youth size (which I linked to in this post) fits a child. I also need to mention that children (by virtue of being children), do not typically like to wear hats once they reach an age where they can reach up and pull them off. But with time, our children have learned that removing their hats is an exercise in futility and they will now leave them on their heads while we are outside. But, it takes work! Consistency. Persistence. Duct Tape.

EDITED (AGAIN) TO ADD: When I just checked out that link for the hats, I'm not entirely convinced it IS for the youth size. (Sorry, I thought for sure it was at 10:00 last night.) They DO make hats in unisex and youth sizes. Our children all have youths. The unisex does fit our children's head (albeit a little big), because they have cinches that you can tighten down. It may take a little more research than what I've provided here to find a youth size. Unfortunately, REI no longer sells them - or else I would have linked there.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

from the mountains ... to the fairies

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was a bit concerned with the amount of sugar our children are consuming at school. It really troubles me that the school allows - or worse yet, encourages parents to bring donuts and cupcakes and candy to pass around to all the children for birthdays.

And then there was Halloween. I couldn't believe the amount of candy our children came home with from their classmates. More even than they have collected in their entire lifetimes of trick or treating. I'm not over the top, I'm all about moderation. I'm not completely opposed to candy. But I don't think it is something that should be consumed daily.

(Unless you are a 37-year old mother of four that has established very good brushing habits.)

Although I did allow each child to have a few pieces of candy from their Halloween stash, I ate all the chocolate threw everything else out within a matter of days. Because they don't need it and I don't want it in the house.

We've discussed our concerns with various teachers and they have told us that they place goody bags in the child's lunch boxes, so if we don't want them, we can toss them in the trash. When we spoke with the Director, she said that she didn't want to offend the parents that want to bring treats for their child's class.

Which to me? It seems easy enough to tell all the parents that establishing good nutrition is important so if they want to send snacks to school, some options for healthy choices include carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and a dip.

What preschooler doesn't love raw vegetables and bleu cheese?


(Oh, I'm laughing. Last night I couldn't even bribe our children to take a single bite of chicken pot pie in exchange for birthday cake.)

The Director further said that if we don't want our children to eat something, we should tell them not to eat it.

Oh, But Of Course! Why Didn't I Think of That?!


Please, come forth those who parent four-year-olds and tell me how you convince your child not to eat a candy bar? Because as of yet, I still cannot convince my children to not pick up and lick an old lollipop from the parking lot of the grocery store.

Since we've begun sending our children to school full-time, they are provided a snack after their nap. When I have arrived at school early last week (and again yesterday) and peeked my head in to their classrooms, I have been surprised - make it shocked - to see that the "snack" they are feeding to our children include Oreo cookies, brownies and Country Time lemonade.

GAH!

I don't feed them that junk at home, I don't want them to eat it at school!

Suffice to say, I'm very disappointed that the school isn't taking the initiative to offer healthy choices for the children. And although I really shouldn't be, (because I am their mother after all), I'm feeling rather timid about going back to the school and AGAIN talking to the Director about my concerns and expectations.

My mother suggested that I tell the school that I will pack their snacks and they should only feed the children what I pack for them. And although this is one good solution, I'm bothered that this is even an issue in the first place.

I'm also bothered that every day the children come home from school with their shoes on the wrong feet. Because the teacher's don't notice and/or help them following nap time?

And when I did a breakdown of their day, it really seems that they are only engaged in the "Montessori" program for two hours a day. If that.

They are dropped off at 9:00 AM. They play until 9:20. They have activities until approximately 11:15. They have lunch until 11:30. They play outside from 11:30 until 12:30. They wash their hands, go potty and nap from approximately 1:00 until 2:00. They wake up, go potty, have a snack and are dismissed at 2:45.

We're trying to figure out what to do. I miss the kids during the day and I feel like they are in glorified child care. Every night it seems Charlie and I are asking ourselves why are we spending a fortune on preschool? And then we remember. They are teaching our children how to remove dishes from the table.

And sing.



Although the jury is still out on whether or not they'll be returning to Montessori in January.