Tuesday, January 28, 2014

More Snow Days

I feel like my kids are being cheated out of their education.

First the Common Core rubbish, now, excessive snow days.

They have been in school a whopping 8 days in the month of January.  It's really taking a toll on them; they're tired of being in the house, they miss their friends, they've read all their books (print and on the kindle), and the girls are almost 2 weeks ahead in their Bible Quizzing memorization.

I get it, today the high is -9… it's too cold to let the kids go to the bus stops or walk to school.  Yesterday we had a snow.  I'm not complaining that they shouldn't have canceled schools, I'm just saying, my kids are bored.

With me being on bed rest, I can't really entertain them the way I'd like to.  And I hate to have the TV or video games on all day.  They've done their computer games to practice math (which I hate, but what ever), and the printer is out of ink, so I can't print out any worksheets for them.

I'm thinking I'm going to have to stock up on some more activities… maybe even have them over-nighted from Amazon, just in case there is no school tomorrow, too.

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Issues with Common Core Curriculums

Common Core

It's a phrase that most parents I know have come to dread.

I understand that it's just a level of standards that they children need to learn by the end of the year, and how the teachers teach it is their discretion.

However...  The programs that appear to have been made available to the teachers are, in my honest opinion, ridiculous.

I'm annoyed at the fact that my daughters rarely come home with homework.  They can't build a study routine when they don't have studying to do.  We limit screen time, so these practice websites are not my top choice.  I purchased math workbooks to supplement, but it's not enough.  And when they do come home with homework, we are overwhelmed with questions, because it's a printed page, and there is no text book to help them find the answers.

My biggest critique is of this math program; it doesn't cater to my eldest daughter's learning style.  2+2=4.  It always will.  She hates having to learn all these other devices to come up with the same answer.   And the terminology they want the kids to learn.  It's all "grouping;" not carrying over or borrowing.  If you want to make it make sense, use terms that a kid will understand.

My eldest is learning multiplication now.  I don't remember learning it until the fourth grade, she's in third.  But some of the stuff she's brought home looks like algebra, which isn't a bad thing, necessarily.  But the problems are written poorly:

2 x 2 + 2 = __
So, does anyone see the problem with this question?

(2 x 2) + 2  = 6
2 x (2 + 2)  = 8
So which is it that they're asking for?  I had her write it both ways… a week later, I haven't seen the graded assignment, so I don't know which was the answer they were looking for.

Then we get things like this:

This is a practice test.  There is no explanation that each X=1 "creature."  Then, what if the child doesn't know that an ant has 6 legs or the spider has 8 legs, because they haven't covered insects in science.  

For my husband to see homework like this and say "Maybe it is time to look into private school," it's serious.  

I know from the parent-teacher conferences a few months ago that their teachers aren't happy with this curriculum, but don't mind the standards.  Both my girls have exhibited exceptionally high standardized test scores (which is what schools ALL ABOUT, right?) and read/comprehend 2 grade levels above where they are.

But they are bored; not feeling challenged, but confused by the "silly work."

Seriously, though… homeschooling and private school are starting to look a lot better now...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hospital Food

I had to spend the weekend in the hospital with some baby issues.  Baby is healthy, big and strong.  Now just time to build my strength.

But how the heck do they think they're going to build up someone's strength with that food?

I mean, really?

I was there 3 days.  I had 8 meals during my stay.  3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners.

Breakfast was the same options every day: eggs (scrambled or hard boiled), several choice of bread, a few cereals and juice.  I ordered the same thing each day: Scrambled Eggs, Frosted Flakes, wheat toast & jelly, and apple juice and decafe tea.  I know they probably use a pre-mixed egg product, but each day the texture was different, and usually cold by the time it got to me.  The "toast" was just a slice of bread.  The hot water for the tea was never hot.  Thank goodness for the cereal!

Lunch and dinner, a different story.  My first day, I was not given a full menu to chose from, just the daily options.  I had forgotten that vegetarian options were available (as they had been 6 years ago when I had my son).  So I mostly ordered sides.  Soup, salad, potato, mixed veggies and a dinner roll.

The first day, no problem.  They gave me what I ordered.  But day 2, they made it up!  I had been transferred to a different room, in the wing with all the moms who recently delivered (instead of being with all the moms in labor).  So maybe that's why the nutritional team felt the need to put the gross meats on my plate, and NOT my vegetable medley.  I mean, the chicken could have been edible, if it wasn't mostly bone.  And salisbury steak?  I don't eat beef, but even if I did, that looked gross.  I was offered a grilled cheese, but by the looks of the breakfast "toast," I passed.

Hummus plate, much better
Yay for my nurse, tracking down the vegetarian menu for me.  She got me a yummy hummus plate.

I've been tracking my food intake for a few years, monitoring my diet.  Especially the last 6 months.  This weekend, I was barely hitting 1200 calories, when I need to be getting at least 1700.  I was missing my protein shakes.  I was missing variety.  I was missing food that actually had flavor!  

I know they make thousands of plates at each meal, and that delivery time can affect food temperatures and so forth.  I totally get that.  But seriously?

And I was really surprised by their "Plate Mandate".  On the menu, it had a circle of what your plate should look like: Protein, Vegetables/Fruit, Carbs and Dairy.  However: At breakfast, no fruit or vegetable was offered, only juice.  And juice was listed as a "carb".  I got some flack for posting that image on Facebook.  I know that the sugars in fruits are technically a carb, but when I need to fill 1/4 of my plate with a fruit or veggie, shouldn't you offer one for breakfast?

In the first room I was in, no 'outside food' or additional snacks were allowed.  They didn't care as much in the other room, which was good because I had my husband bring me a shake from NewTrition first chance he could get!  Ahh.. good ol' Monster Cookie never lets me down!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dr. PetPlay is in the House

We recently got a few new iPad games for our kids, that had been free during the Christmas Season.

Dr. PetPlay was one of these games (usually $2.99).

My middle child loves animals (especially cats) and would like to be a vet when she grows up.  So this game was PERFECT for her.  And her enormous collection of stuffed animals made for a full waiting room.

The kids have spent their days being snowed in taking care of their animals.  I was doing some work when I heard an awful cry coming from "The Doctor's Office."  It was my son.  And his beloved puppy Shadow (named after my parent's dog) had not one, but two broken legs!  Thank you creators of Dr. PetPlay for that image for my son.

The tears on his face were real, and the sadness in his voice.  But Dr. Emmalee told him that with some bandaids and rest, puppy would be all better.

We've recently been bombarded with animals who needed homes, temporary and permanent.  After the snowstorm left an animal shelter without heat, my heart broke and I wanted to help.  But I also know the kids wouldn't want to give the animal back, and we're not really in a place to be taking in any animals, especially cats or untrained puppies.

So we'll continue on with the stuffed animals, and visiting adopt-a-thons, waiting for that time when a pet will be a part of our family…. many, many years from now.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tummy Aches Return

In the past, we'd dealt with tummy troubles for our eldest.  Now it's my middle child's turn.

E has been having tummy issues for months, so after discovered the pattern of right after every meal, we cut everything out and went vegan and gluten free for a few weeks.  We slowly added everything back, and found the culprit: dairy.

So we invested in the lactose pills for her to take at meal times, and started giving her pro-biotic pills daily.  As long as she takes her meds, she's fine.  For the most part, the school has been accommodating to her, giving her dairy free options.  But in the case of snacks from classmates, she's often needing reminders to take a pill before she eats it - even dairy in baked goods upset her tummy.

I've been researching natural ways to help her deal with it, even been given some seemingly contradictory advice.  But the consensus is to just ELIMINATE all dairy for 3 to 6 months, then introduce it.

That means soy/almond milk alternatives, which can be pretty pricy.  She was mostly upset about not being able to have sour cream on her tacos… her favorite part.

Any other Lactose Free families out there with suggestions for me?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Our Take on "Bread and Milk" Videos

Three extra days of winter break…  It would be an understatement to say the kids got a bit stir crazy.

My husband had shown them the infamous "Bread and Milk" YouTube videos, and our theatrical children wanted to make their own.

And so, we did.

We were in fact running low on milk, but the Level 3 Emergency that we were under (making it illegal to be on the roads) was going to be lifted soon.  

Regardless, the kids had a blast making this, and I crack up every time I see my son on the screen.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Snomageddon 2014

Well, 2014 has certainly been fun!

Living in the midwest, particularly our part of the midwest, snow can be hit or miss.  We always seem to be on the cusp of any snow storm that has potential to close the county.

Not this year!

Winter Storms Henry and Ion shut us in, even giving the kids a few extra days off of school from Christmas/Winter break.  The hardest part is dealing with the temperatures: The kids WANT to go play in the now, but it's -7 degrees at 1in the afternoon: not really happening.

All bundled up for 5 minutes of play
Snow has kept them in for the most of the past 2 weeks, and they're getting stir crazy in the house.  Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago when we could go for a walk?  Now we can't even step outside the house.  

It was so cold today that we tried the whole "toss boiling water into the air to make snow" thing.  Yup, it totally worked.  And it was awesome!

The girls were able to get ahead on their bible quizzing verses, and our son is enjoying all the toys he got for Christmas. But they really miss their friends and having someone other than their sibling to play with.  School should be back in session tomorrow, right?  

AND with this snow emergency (making it illegal to be on the roads, thus businesses are closed), it only figures that I would get a random pregnancy craving...

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Years Resolutions?

I don't have any real "New Years Resolutions."  Something always happens and I fail.

Especially now with as sick as I've been, I'm not going to try anything too crazy.  I'd say "get healthier," but my doctor doesn't care what I eat or drink at this point, as long as I can keep it down.

With the birth of our 4th child coming however, I really want to try to be more frugal this year.

I coupon occasionally, when it's products that we'd regularly use.  I don't do the 'extreme coupon-ing' for major stocking up; I don't buy 12 newspapers and the thought of ordering coupons by mail is weird to be, but some people swear by it.   But I love reading coupons blogs to see what kind of deals I can get, if I could manage to get my hand on THAT many coupons…

Me and the Coupon Queen herself, Joni Meyer-Crothers at her book signing (FreeTastesGood.com)

I've started researching to make my own cleaning and beauty supplies… some other DIY things to save money.  

We thought about cloth diapers for the baby, but not sure how the childcare situation will be yet long term, and not everyone is a fan of cloth diapers.

I'm taking the pants that my daughters, which they had received from my cousins, and have grown to tall for (thank you elastic adjusted waistbands!) and turning them into skirts.  I don't have a wide variety of Maternity clothes, but I've found patterns to make my own… the catch is finding the energy to do it…

I know many moms who have started their own side businesses - crafts, skin care, etc.  But I'm not that crafty and you have to spend money and make a ton of products in hoping to sell a few.

I've tried to sit through those survey sites, too, but I never seem to qualify, so it's almost a waste of my time…

I have a Sam's Club Membership, I'd like to start doing more bulk meal preparations, but again, a lot of it has to do with time and energy…

So at this point, I'm just trying to cut as many corners as I can, trying to set money aside for things like Bible Quiz trips, and maternity leave.

What money saving tips are you using?  Any suggestions for me?