Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vacation lunch #2

Pasta salad: whole wheat noodles, spinach, olives, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, tuna, with yogurt mixed with light Italian dressing. And since it is vacation - white wine spritzer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lunch on vacation

Sautéed leftover pizza makings (mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes) and added poached eggs. Nice what you can make on vacation and while family is already at the beach. And yes, that is a Bloody Mary. I already ran 5 miles; and it's vacation! /Courtney

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Whole wheat tortilla, creamy goat cheese, spinach, chicken wrap with snap peas and cherry tomatoes. Peach from Lodi CA

Monday, August 13, 2012

What is for lunch?

Pita chips, hummus, roasted chicken, cucumbers, snap peas and cherry tomatoes - all courtesy of Costco.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Canning book is back!

Mamas - the Better Homes and Gardens Canning book/magazine Lora told us about us back! Second printing; $10 at Fred Meyer in checkout stand.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Farmer's Market Lunches

Join mamas for lunch and shopping two times this summer.

#1: Wednesday, July 25 from 11:30 - 1:00 at the Park Block Farmer's Market.

#2: Monday, August 6 from 11:30 - 1:00 at the Pioneer Square Farmer's Market.

Hope to see you there.

Courtney, Darcy, Lora

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Recipe: Fruit Salad

Nothing says summer like a fresh fruit salad.  This one will please everyone and is a great side dish or topping for ice cream.

Summer Fruit Salad
2 pints strawberries
1 pint blueberries
3 ripe kiwis
1 ripe mango
1 ripe papaya
2 Tbls lime juice
3 Tbls table sugar

Cut of the tops of the strawberries and cut into chunks.  Place in large bowl with blueberries.  Peel the kiwis, mango and papaya.  Slice the kiwis and place in blow.  Cut the flesh off the mango pit, slice, add to bowl.  Scoop out the papaya seeds, slice remaining fruit, add to bowl.  Top with lime juice and sugar.  Stir.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Recipe: Sausage Spinach Pasta

This recipe came about by opening the cupboard and fridge and taking stuff out.  It turned out great.  Everyone liked it. Success!

Sausage Spinach Pasta
Time = 30 min
Servings = 8

1 lb mild sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 c Marsala wine
1 box (1 lb) penne pasta
1 tsp salt
1 large bunch spinach, chopped (stems discarded)
Fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 c sun dried tomatoes
1/2-1/3 c shredded parmesan cheese

1.  Cook sausage in a large frying pan over medium/high heat for 5 minutes.  Add chopped onion and cook until the onion is opaque and sausage is no longer pink.  Add Marsala wine.
2.  Meanwhile heat a large pot of water to boiling.  Add salt and pasta to water.  Bring back to boiling and cook for 8 minutes.
3.  Add spinach to sausage mixture and stir until wilted.  Add fresh black pepper.  Add sun dried tomatoes.  Reduce heat to low to keep warm.
4.  When the pasta is done, drain reserving 1/4 c of the liquid.  In a large bowl, mix pasta with sausage and spinach.  Mix in shredded cheese.

Notes - If you want to kick up the heat, add 1 tsp of red pepper along with the black pepper.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recipe: Lentil Curry

Lentil Curry
Time = 1 hr
Servings = 8-10

2 c brown lentils
2 c chicken or vegetable broth
3 c water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (optional)
1 large russet potato
1 large carrot
1/2 c milk

Place lentils in a large stock pot. Pour in chicken/vegetable broth and water. Stir in salt, pepper, curry powder, sugar and cumin seeds. Slowly bring to boil, stirring occasionally.

While the lentils are warming up, chop the onion and add to pot. Use kitchen shears to cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces - cut right into the pot. Peel the potato, chop and add to pot. Then peel the carrot, chop and add to the pot. Stir in milk.

Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer. Stir occasionally and check the consistency. Once the lentils start to break up, the potatoes are soft and the broth thickens, taste it. Adjust the seasonings to desired spiciness. Serve over prepared rice.

Keeps well for about 3 days.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Recipe: Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad
Time = 15 minutes
Servings = 4

1/2 lb spiral pasta
2 large carrots
2 celery ribs
3 green onions
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup smoked Gruyere cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and stir in pasta. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil for 8 minutes or until al dente. While pasta is cooking, peel carrots and shred. Trim celery and dice. Slice green onions, greens only. Dice the yellow bell pepper. In a small bowl, mix mayo, sour cream and sugar. Cut the cheese into 1/2" cubes.

Drain the pasta and transfer to serving dish. Stir in mayo/sour cream mixture. Add veggies and cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust. You can always add more mayo and/or sour cream to make the pasta creamier. Enjoy!

Note - This salad is best made a day a head of time. Cover the dish and put in the refrigerator for the flavors to mix and mingle.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Women's History Month Events

Celebrate events for Women's History Month!  For the month of March, PDXCityMamas has teamed up with the Women’s History Month planning committee to sponsor some great speakers, including:

Women’s Health with Dr. Hilary Costello ND
Monday, March 12th, Noon to 1pm
Portland Building, 3rd Floor Fir Creek Room
Learn about women’s health from a naturpath’s perspective. Be inspired to focus on self-care, while caring for others. Dr. Costello practices medicine at Nature Cure’s Clinic

Career Advice from Leadership Coach Katie Kelley 
Monday, March 19th at Noon
Portland Building – 3rd Floor Fir Creek Room
Is your career stuck on auto-pilot? Do you need some motivation for your next career step? Katie Kelley specializes in igniting and emboldening women to become more effective, inspired business leaders. You won’t want to miss this inspiring career session.

Organizing Your Life with Professional Organizer Beth Giles
Thursday, March 22nd at Noon
Portland Building Auditorium
Learn life skills to apply both at work and home to organize your life, and bring more order and calm to your daily routines. Let NW Organizing Solutions  help you out.

Read below for the entire calendar of events:

Women’s History Month
100th Anniversary of Suffrage in Oregon

Nominate “Wonder Women”
Honor women at the City who serve as mentors, leaders, and exceptional co-workers. Nomination forms are due by Friday, March 16th. Please send email to Crystine Jividen

Download the nomination form here

Dress for Success Clothing Drive
All March long you can donate gently used professional women’s clothing. Donation bins will be available in the lobby of the Portland Building, and room 4B in the 1900 Building. Contact Barbara with any questions, 823-7960.

Portland Women’s Affinity Group Breakfasts
March 7, 8:30-9:30am Portland Building, room C
March 8, 8:15-9:00am 1900 Bldg, room 4A
Join your co-workers for a delicious and educational breakfast to kick off the City’s Women's History Month celebrations!  We’ll have a make-your-own granola bowl bar, fruit, coffee, and tea. Plus, a trivia game and opportunity to take your own suffragist photo to celebrate the voting centennial!

Film: Iron Jawed Angels
Tuesday, March 6th and Wednesday, March 7th, Noon to 1pm (A two part movie)
Portland Building Auditorium
Munch on lunch while you watch this Golden Globe Award winning HBO movie with actresses Hilary Swank, Anjelica Huston, and Julia Ormond.

City Women in Leadership Roles
March 8th, Noon-1pm
Portland Building Auditorium
The panel discussion includes Erin Janssens, Loretta Young, Amalia Alarcon de Morris, Betsy Ames, Kirstin Byer, and Lynda Lewis.  Introductions by Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Women’s History Bike Ride
Saturday, March 10th at 11am
Meet at 2129 SE Ladd
Ever heard of the cycling suffragettes? Seen Portland's Walk of Heroines? Have an inkling when women got the vote in Oregon?  Find out all this and do a fun-paced 10 mile ride (approximately) in honor of Women's History Month. Questions?  Contact Janis McDonald

Film: Oregon Experience – Abigail Scott Duniway
Wednesday, March 14th, Noon
Portland Building, 3rd Floor Blazed Alder Room
OPB documentary about the “mother of Oregon Suffrage.” This is just a 30 minute video, but you are welcome to discuss following the film.

Women’s Health with Dr. Hilary Costello ND
Monday, March 12th, Noon to 1pm
Portland Building, 3rd Floor Fir Creek Room
Learn about women’s health from a naturpath’s perspective. Be inspired to focus on self-care, while caring for others. Dr. Costello practices medicine at Nature Cure’s Clinic

Career Advice from Leadership Coach Katie Kelley
Monday, March 19th at Noon
Portland Building – 3rd Floor Fir Creek Room
Is your career stuck on auto-pilot? Do you need some motivation for your next career step? Katie Kelley specializes in igniting and emboldening women to become more effective, inspired business leaders. You won’t want to miss this inspiring career session.

Women’s Clothing Swap
Wednesday, March 21st at Noon
1900 Building – room 7A
Take this chance to swap your old digs with some “new” ones, or at least new to you. Any items not swapped will be donated to Dress for Success.

Organizing Your Life with Professional Organizer Beth Giles
Thursday, March 22nd at Noon
Portland Building Auditorium
Learn life skills to apply both at work and home to organize your life, and bring more order and calm to your daily routines. Let NW Organizing Solutions  help you out.

Celebrate the City’s “Wonder Women”
Thursday, March 29th at Noon
Portland Building Auditorium
Celebrate mentors, co-workers, and women you admire at the City.  More details to come soon…

More Events Around Portland to Celebrate Women’s History Month:

Poetry Reading with Nikky Finney
Thursday, March 8, 1 p.m., Moriarty Arts & Humanities Building auditorium, free, 705 N. Killingsworth St. More information here, or call (971) 722-5633.

In Her Steps Walking Tour – Portland’s Walk of Heroines
Dates: March 13 and 15, 2:00 p.m. and 2:20 p.m.
Length: 1 1/2 hours (downtown sidewalks, gentle grade)
Cost: Free     Registration: 

Oregon State Archives: Woman Suffrage Centennial Web Exhibit

For questions regarding Women’s History Month events
Contact Janis McDonald or at 503-823-5358

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February meeting notes: Savannah Mayfield


As a result of your survey responses in October, this year, PDXCityMamas will host a handful of speakers from your most popular topics instead of holding monthly meetings.  One of the themes we heard loud and clear from the survey was "Work-Life balance".  We are so excited to delve into this topic with you!  We have a whole speaker series planned for the year to explore the many aspects of this theme.  More on that later...

We started our first gathering of 2012 with speaker Savannah Mayfield on the topic of Self-Nurture.  We were so happy to have her back!  She first spoke with our group in October 2010.  It was great to see so many moms at the meeting.  Welcome, new and familiar faces! 

So here are my notes: (As always, feel free to add anything that you may have remembered that I didn't capture here.  Savannah has such a calming presence that it seemed almost counter-intuitive to be taking notes ;) .)

First, we went around the room, introduced ourselves, and Savannah asked us to give an example of how we each "self-nurture".  Yeah, right!  Everyone laughed, and Savannah said she was in the right room!

"Self Nurture" is more than just scheduled activities or self-care actions - it is really about your relationship with yourself.  It includes taking the time to recognize and know ourselves completely.  It includes the "feeling" state beyond, say, the activity of exercise, but how that activity makes you feel.  For instance, if it is stressful to get to yoga because it means coming home and rushing to fix dinner and rushing back to put kids to bed, then that's not really self-nurturing.  Or if you love massages but feel guilty about paying for them every time you have one... you get the idea.  So how do we get beyond this?  We need to take the time to nourish the whole self, working it into our schedules and daily lives...

Savannah wanted us to focus on mindfulness.  An exercise she shared with us that afternoon was to take a moment to think about a time when we felt depleted, when we were not able to take care of ourselves.  Then she asked us to think about how much energy and attention we were able to give to the people we care about...  She asked us to listen to our bodies.  What feelings did we have?  Many of us shared that we felt a wince of pain in the back or neck, had difficulty breathing, or felt tension or pressure.

Next, she had us do the same exercise, this time thinking about a time when we felt nourished.  What did our bodies tell us then?  Many of us shared feelings of relaxation, lighter, more open.  Some even felt guilty because the "happy place" they went to was a time before kids or spouse!  (p.s. this was my happy place)

Savannah walked us a little through some of her handout, which included five self nurture principles.
(link to her handout)

They are (my notes in parenthesis):
  • Taking time to nourish your whole self (the physical, emotional, mind, spiritual, energetic self - asking yourself, what do I need in these areas?)
  • Listening to your inner voice (Self talk is very important.  There are many voices to parse out.  Which are your true feelings and which are the "Self-critic"? the "scared me".  Listen to yourself by shutting out the voices that do not reflect who you are.  Know who your true self is.)
  • Honoring yourself in your relationships through your actions, communication and healthy boundaries
  • Cultivating self love and being mindful with self talk (Be positive to yourself!)
  • Living your values, including the way you care for others (Living your values, meaning, "This is who I am.")
We had a great discussion in and around these principles.  It was nice for so many of the group to have a chance to open up.  Many of us shared similar experiences or at least related to one another in a way that was uplifting and encouraging.  Then, time was up!  One mom told me, "It feels like we just got started!"

So... for those of you who are interested, Savannah does a Self Nurture Women's Group for 7-8 people.  This includes 10 sessions, about twice a month for about 2 hours each.  A few of you have expressed interest, and Savannah handed out her flier.  It's also posted on her website.  If you are interested in gathering together, please email me your contact information.

Thanks again to our speaker, and thanks to those of you who were able to attend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

School Fundraisers: Family CIrcle Artcile and Your Thoughts

We are in the midst of school auction and fundraising season here in Portland at least. I thought this was an interesting and thought provoking article from Family Circle. Our school (Title 1, w/60% free and reduced lunch) tried to do an "ask" to cover the fundraising we used to do with paper, cookies, etc. I think it was $4.50 per child. We have not yet reached this goal. To contrast schools - we are looking to raise $35,000 - the most we have ever raised - at our auction on Saturday and trying to get 200 people. In contrast, a school in same cluster just a few miles away made over $85,000 at their auction. I have not even been to the auction and have already spent at least $300 on: wine donations (two wine showers with three $10 bottles of wine each), stuff for a New Orleans dinner basket including Treme DVD, tickets (including sponsored tickets for families that can’t afford them and one for the student teacher). In addition, I will host a dinner for six in April, and a nature park play-date for four kids in June.

What are your thoughts on the article and school fundraisers in general?


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Kitchen Science

Making food is just science and math. It's proportions and chemical reactions. And it can be really fun for kids. Here is a case in point.

Last night I was thinking about breakfast and decided we should have pancakes. Problem was that there was no butter in the house. But there was half a pint of heavy whipping cream. And so there was a solution - make some butter. I called Jordan in to help.

We poured the half a pint of heavy whipping cream into a mason jar. Then we put a marble into the jar and screwed the lid on very tight. Next came the fun part - shaking. Shake, shake, shake. Everyone got a turn, even daddy. First it becomes whipped, the consistency you'd expect for topping a piece of pie. More shaking. Second it starts to look grainy, but still white. More shaking. Last the watery parts of the cream separate from the fats. The fats come together and are light yellow. The liquid is cloudy. We opened the jar to test the consistency, it wasn't quite solid enough so a bit more shaking. And done. We poured out the liquid and put the butter in a dish.

Jordan asked to taste it. "Wow, it tastes like butter!" I said, "That's because it is butter."

Note - Personally I don't like salted butter, but if you do you can add a little. After you put the butter in the dish add 1/4 tsp of salt and mix it in.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kindergarten Roundup Time!

For those of you who will have Kindergarteners this fall, or those of you who are just curious and want a little inside information on Portland Public Schools, check out these resources:

Here's some information about Kindergarten on PPS' website, including Kindergarten readiness booklets with activities for your children and information for parents, Roundup calendars, and information regarding before and after care.  Check out the roundup calendar if you plan to attend this year!  Some of the roundups have already started. 

Also, if you're curious about the school lottery experience, read Darcy's recent guest post here.  School choice website is here and as Darcy's blog post cites, check out the Scoop on Schools for a parent-insider view of how to navigate school options, including non-PPS.

Also, if you want a little insight from urbanmamas, here's a post from last year at this time, with lots of resources as well.  

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coming Home…Heading Out. Enter…Exit…Repeat: Organizing Post from Beth

Coming Home…Heading Out. Enter…Exit…Repeat.

The entryway is the first thing you see as you arrive and the last thing you see as you leave. You may come and go through the front door, the side door, the back door or even through the garage door. We work hard to keep the entrance that guests use looking welcoming and presentable but often neglect the entrance we use on a daily basis. What feeling do you get as you enter the door? Does it welcome you or are you stressed by it? Do you trip over shoes, shove the bags out of the way or struggle to find a place to hang your coat? Do you ever feel like turning around and leaving again? Let’s bring order to your entry space, so it greets you with a warm welcome.

Entryways must meet many needs. They hold so many things that go in and out with us on a regular basis. Your space may house shoes, coats, hats, backpacks, keys, briefcases, and miscellaneous items ready to depart with you the next time you leave. So how do you create that welcoming space ready for easy exits and entries?

First take time to evaluate everything you have in the space. Does it really have to be there? Does it go in and out of the home on a regular basis or just every so often? Have you taken it with you in the last week? Eliminate the excess by keeping only the things that you are presently using. Give away the shoes and coats that no longer fit and find a different place to store those that are out of season. Consider moving your incoming mail station or sports equipment to another area of your home.

Next set up areas for storing the different items you need in your entry space. All garments in one place and things from your pocket or purse in their own area. Think through how each item should be contained or housed with a focus on accessibility. These items will be leaving and returning to this spot often, so you want to make it simple to do. The simpler it is, the easier it will be to maintain. Here are a few suggestions that may help make your entryway feel inviting and organized.

Create a drop zone for keys, change, wallet, or cellphone. Place a small container or two on the counter or table to hold these smaller items. This will prevent them from being misplaced.
Designate a hanging area for coats. Install a coat rack with enough hooks for each family member. If you are using a closet, remember that hooks are easier for children. Add a lower rack or a few simple hooks, so they can hang their own things.

Use shelves, cubbies or large baskets for shoe storage. Open storage is best as it is easier to access. Make sure the containers are large enough to hold the necessary amount. Don’t forget to include a place to sit to make putting the shoes on easier.

Designate a small clear bin for each person to hold their hats, gloves, ear buds, etc. You can place a multi-compartment clear shoe organizer over the door for this kind of storage as well.

Allocate a bin or basket specifically for items that are outgoing. These maybe library books, dry cleaning, a store return or a dish you borrowed from a friend. Make sure you check this “outgoing” area each time you leave to see if there is something that you could deliver during your trip out.

Take control of your entry by implementing some of these tips and you will make it a space that says, “Welcome Home!”

Monday, January 23, 2012

Musings from a reluctant PTA President

When I asked Rebecca Geisen to write about her experience so far as PTA president, I knew it was a tall order - she has a lot on her plate!  So I'm grateful that she found time to let us in on a slice of PTA life, told from her perspective.  Thanks, Rebecca, for sharing with us!  /Lora

She writes:

Somehow this school year, I find myself Co-President of the Lewis Elementary PTA. A teacher (who is also a parent) at our school thought myself and another mom would be great for the job and her flattery and confidence blinded me. I thought “I can do this!” I had participated with the PTA the previous two years and had some ideas for making it more inclusive and welcoming. Here was my chance. The other consideration was that the outgoing president assured us that “everything was in order” so it should be a piece of cake. Hmm.

So how is it going?

Well, the first week of school we were notified by the IRS that our non-profit status had been revoked because no one on the PTA FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS had bothered to submit a postcard to the IRS, despite numerous notices and warnings. Then our fundraising coordinator quit in December. I did not anticipate having to start a new organization, navigate taxes and make the IRS happy. Fortunately, we have a strong supportive board and we are making the best of the situation. Our best coping mechanism is to have our monthly board meetings at the bar at Country Bills.

If you are contemplating running for a position on your PTA Board, please know that it is a big responsibility. You are managing an organization and certain obligations have to be met and you are accountable. It requires diligence, patience, grace and super-human communication skills. You must be prepared for the unexpected. Because you are working with volunteers, people come and go – often at the worst time. Also, parents are very passionate and have a tremendous amount of ownership for events and programs that they organize and volunteer. Toes sometimes feel stepped upon. If that is not your cup of tea, you can have just as big an impact by simply volunteering for your favorite event. Many of our most valuable parents operate behind the scenes and don’t even come to regular meetings.

Despite the challenges, I am a committed PTA parent. The PTA serves such an important function in many schools, especially with such tight school budgets. Being part of your school’s PTA is a great way to support your school and have a say in how money is spent to support critical programs and materials that you may not otherwise have, such as garden programs, on-line academic programs, library support, etc. While PTAs focus a lot on fundraising, for many schools, it is the backbone of the school community. In my school, the PTA is very involved and we have an amazing group of dedicated parents who help with community events and fundraising. I am humbled by their energy and dedication and amazed at the talents they bring to the school. So, would I do it again? Overall, it has been a very rewarding experience, one that has helped me in many other aspects of my life – but you might want to ask me again in 5 months!

Rebecca Geisen
Water Bureau

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kindergarten for Kieran - Story to Help Moms Through Kindergarten Process

When Lora asked several of us moms who have recently gone through the transition to Kindergarten to write a blog post about our experience, I was glad to share our story in the hope that it might help other cityMamas in their process.
Kieran insisted on wearing this muscle shirt for his first day; his teacher is  Hawaiian, plus we had the heat wave!
Personal Scenario
We live two houses from the boundary of Irvington School, and Boise-Elliot is our neighborhood school. We moved there three years ago (partly because our location would put us in Grant instead of Jefferson), but had heard mixed reports from neighbors about Boise-Elliot. Apparently about five years ago several families tried attending the school the hope of making positivie change, but they all transferred within a few years.
School Choice Process
Parents interested in participating in Portland's school choice process need to school themselves. Scoop on Schools is a fantastic resource developed by parents who wanted to help other parents navigate the system. I love the way that it is set up as a step by step process, which breaks it down very well. The PPS site is also good for dates, etc., Portland School Choice Process. Here's a great article about school choice in Portland that highlights Scoop on Schools...the site literally helps you through every step of...except crossing your fingers.
Finding a School
I attended an open house at MLC (Multnomah Learning Center) in NW, and was very impressed overall. However, it is very competitive to get in (many families from great school in SW and NW apply who don't "need" to transfer, plus the application process includes a self-portait by the child and a referral from childcare professional!). But in the end, we didn't apply because it would have been a hard commute by bus, and because it is a magnate school, we would have lost our chance at getting into Irvington.
We applied to attend Emerson Charter School in the Pearl, and I really loved their experiential learning approach and environmental focus. However, everyone elses wants to go there too. There are about 200 applications for less than 20 slots...we were something like number 147 (and the two other families from CityKids drew higher numbers). I wish every neighborhood school were modeled after Emerson...
I went the open house at Boise-Elliot trying to have an open mind, and initially had a good impression. I happened to meet two other parents I knew who lived out of the neighborhood who were hoping to lottery into the school, thinking it was better than others in North Portland (but easier to get into that Sabin/Irvington). As a Title 1 school, they receive extra funds. But in the end, my red flag issue was that they have NO recess help reduce the acheivement gap and give more "academic hours." I asked about when kids get outside, and they said "when it's nice"...this is Portland! I was sent home praying that we got into another school...
The next day I went to the Irvington (K-8) open house, and I was really impressed. They were very well organized, but more importantly, all the Kindergarten teachers spoke for 15-20 minutes about their academic approach to literacy, math, etc. They were obviously very passionate about their work and could articulate the details very well. The PTA was also very impressive.
(I also consider Buckman Arts magnet school, but I missed the mandatory open house.)
In the end, I anticipated the letter from PPS perhaps more than my own college admissions...and we were relieved and happy to successfully lottery into Irvington Elementary.
Starting Kindergarten
Overall, Kieran has been very enthusiastic about Kindergarten and is doing well. Since he'll turn 6 at the end of January, he was ready to move on from preschool (he attended CityKids). He wasn't very emotional about leaving preschool (he was very excited about our family vacation to Denmark in the month before Kindergarten). He was also fine starting Kindergarten, but his dad dropped him off for the first several days. At the end of the first full week I dropped him off, and he was a blubbering mess...I hadn't seem him like that since he was a toddler...thankfully, I held it together and he acted like nothing had happened when I picked him up that afternoon.
Like I've heard from other parents, Kieran was exhausted for the first month of school. He would fall asleep every night before his two year old sister, by around 7 (before it was dark at that time!). There are a lot of new routines for everyone to learn, like checking lockers and school lunch payments (it turns out that Kieran is part hobbit, and would routinely eat breakfast at school after having eaten at home...he's a growing boy...but it meant that he racked up a bill unbeknownst to us!) We make lunch 3-4 days a week, and thankfully, he's not very picky (although he gets bent out of shape if I don't cut his sandwich in two!).
After our first parent/teacher conference, we confirmed that he's ahead of his peers in math (already where most will be by the end of the year). So, we've begun positively challenging him at home through "family math" games his teacher recommended, and he loves the free computer game, Rock Hopper. We also plan to start him on the Khan Academy whenever the more basic kid game loose his interest. He also needs to boost his writing confidence, but we're happy to see him thriving in Kindergarten.
Final Thoughts
Get open houses on your calendar early...they all seem to happen within a two week span. Focus on the positive, connect with other parents, and only worry about what you can control. Savor the preschool age and good luck with the next adventure...

Lastly, feel free to get in touch if you have any more questions about our experience.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Recipe of the Week - Moroccan Lamb Patties

This recipes is posted over on my farm blog, but it's so good and a great weeknight recipe I thought I'd give the link here. Enjoy

Start the New Year Off Right

Post from Beth Giles at NW

Beth Giles
Professional Organizer/Senior Move Manager
NW Organizing Solutions
We help families bring order to their homes
Become a FAN on Facebook and see weekly tips

Start the New Year Off Right

A new year means a new calendar.
Use only one calendar to list meetings, appointments and tasks. If you use more than one, there is always the risk of forgetting to keep the others up to date.
A portable calendar is also essential since it may need to be referenced on the go.
Make sure all family members are able to view the calendar. If using an electronic one, it may be helpful to print it out weekly so others can use.
When a calendar serves more than one person, as in a family, daily space for notes is especially useful. It's a great spot to list reminders and tasks.
Set a time once a week to do a calendar check with all members of the household. Events and plans change so make sure to check if things you put on the calendar weeks ago are still happening. This could be as simple as bringing it to the table every Sunday evening to discuss the week.
There are some great calendars on the market. Stop and think before you buy one. Does it just look nice or will it meet your organizing needs?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What's For Lunch?

Leftover mashed sweet potatoes (cooked and mashed in apple cider); turkey meatloaf "muffins"; cuties.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Recipe of the Week - Twice Baked Potato

This is a fan favorite and you can make enough for two or even three dinners. Just double/triple everything except the broccoli. You can add a new veggie each night to keep it fresh.

Twice "Baked" Potato
Time - 45 min
Servings - 4

2 large russet potatoes
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
4 strips turkey bacon
1/4 c or more low-fat milk
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 head broccoli
bunch chives
low-fat sour cream

1. Pierce each potato with a fork, place on a folded paper towel and cook in the microwave for 8 minutes on high, flipping over at 4 minutes. Check to make sure the potatoes are soft all through big piercing with a fork. If not soft, cook for another 2-4 minutes. When the potatoes are done, place on a wire rack to cool. Wait at least 15 minutes or more.
2. While the potatoes are cooking and cooling, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Cool on a paper towel. When you can handle the bacon, break into 1/2 inch pieces.
3. Also while the potatoes are cooking, cut the broccoli florets from the stalk. Chop the chives.
4. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the soft whites, leaving the skin intact. Error on the side of leaving more whites in the potato to keep from puncturing the skin. Place the potato white in a bowl and mash. Mix in cheese, bacon, milk and salt and pepper. Adjust the amount of milk to your desired consistency.
5. Scoop the potato whites back into the skins, allowing it to mound up slightly. Place back in the microwave and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to make sure all cheese melts. Set on 4 plates to cool slightly. [One half a potato equals one serving.]
6. While the potatoes are cooking and cooling again, steam the broccoli until just fork tender. Place on plates with potatoes. Serve with chives and sour cream as toppings.

Notes - If you double or triple the number of potatoes, you need to add 1 minute for each potato the the original cooking time in step 1. To keep the leftovers, let the potatoes cool completely to room temperature. Double wrap each individually in plastic wrap and place in fridge. Just reheat each in the microwave and serve with veggies. Steamed beens, small salad or cooked corn kernels are great side dishes.