Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Us!

It's Monkeyrotica's and my 13th anniversary today (or yesterday, because I got distracted by sick boy and forgot to hit the publish button), and true to style, we didn't really plan to do anything on the day of to celebrate. To help keep the romance away, Dash has a fever and I stayed home to take care of him, so we are really putting things off until our anniversary date night this coming Saturday night at Restaurant Eve, where we have spent several anniversaries in past years.

We are terrible at getting each other special-occasion gifts. Seriously, neither of us likes surprises and wasting savings on frivolities, so we typically get practical items and check with each other several times before purchasing. This year (our gifts are rarely "must have, evening-of-calendar-date") we are looking at chandeliers. The requirements, including no dangling jewels or fussy beaded curtains:

1. replace this despised chandelier:

2. no obvious chains/brass
3. no dustcatching glass cups
4. an artistic/modern look
5. warm & inviting
6. nothing too Victorian or busy
7. just kooky enough

Some chandeliers that have caught my eye on the web so far:

The minimalist George Kovacs chandelier
(chains: +10/dustcatching: +8/artistic:+5/inviting:-2/kooky:0=21)::

The champagne bottle chandelier
(chains:+3/dustcatching: +3/artistic:+3/inviting:+8/kooky:+3=20):

The popular IKEA MASKROS chandelier
(chains: +8/dustcatching: -5/artistic:+5/inviting:+10/kooky:+8=26):

The wine bottle chandelier
(chains:-3/dustcatching: +2/artistic:+3/inviting:+5/kooky:+5=12):

The Cthulhu (Medusa?) chandelier (by Murano Imports)
(chains: +8/dustcatching: -5/artistic:+5/inviting:0/kooky:+8=16):

According to my scale ratings, the IKEA MASKROS lighting is the winner, but I'll have to let Monkey weigh in. I'm expecting he'll pick an item from the George Kovacs line. Kovacs is quite the prolific lighting designer.


I almost forgot about one of the most awesome wine-jug chandeliers EVAR! The Carlo Rossi wine jug chandelier! From The World's Best Ever blog:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Flash Cards for Kid's Lunches

I was reading an article on Asha Dornfest's Parent Hacks blog asking parents to discuss a topic dear to my heart: How to get your child to eat more of her school lunch?

Dash just started Kindergarten and while we don't yet know if he will be too busy socializing to eat his lunch (likely!), we do know that Rosie has brought home many an uneaten lunch. We have taken some steps to keep this from happening, but it's just frustrating as a parent to find that your lovingly packed lunches get ignored or discarded. I was reading through the insightful comments and saw some parents were recommending that your child pack his own lunch. My first reaction was, forget that! My kids are too young/irresponsible/unmotivated and then I stopped myself.

While they might not yet be able to physically pack their lunches, they can certainly get involved! Since Rosie eats about 50 foods total (not including variations on chocolate), we have already been to a nutritionist. I have detailed lists [OCD-alert] of her foods broken down by their nutrient content. I decided that my best option would be to make flash cards with delicious-looking images of the foods on them (because Dash is not reading—yet)!

I took my lists, my graphic design skillz (practically applied—I'm just making usable items here), and made some decisions on how to structure the cards for the kids' use. Then, I stayed late at work to print them out. Pictured is one of three pages from my layout. While the food pyramid at USDA's website is helpful, the group-breakdowns weren't set up for balancing a lunch for kids. There is a lot of information there, go look if you want.

Here's my structure. I set up five categories for the kids to pick one or two each (with guidance that they needed to have at least one from EACH number group), color-coded them, and added where they fell in the USDA Groups set up:
  1. main course items, purple; my main course foods have the most protein, come from the USDA's meat/beans/nuts/seeds group and will help to keep my kids' energy levels high.
  2. fruits and veggies high in vitamins, red for fruit and green for vegetables; many of these foods are raw, just how my kids like them.
  3. side items, orange; are often from the grains group, but might also be a vegetable with a lower vitamin count.
  4. snack foods, white; treat items with higher sugar, mostly chocolate-flavored for my kids (#4 will be first to get eliminated if a previous lunch has #1-3 come home uneaten!).
  5. drinks, blue; my kids drink white or chocolate milk or water, no juices, so easy pickins here.
The kids were super-excited about the cards last night and wanted everything, but remember where this post started? They weren't finishing what they were getting. In fact, Rosie hadn't eaten her main course from the prior day (edamame, which is a favorite), so she didn't get a #4 today. Here's what they picked for today's lunches, with a quick addition of pizza for Dash:

**DISCLAIMER** These cards are for my personal use; I am not selling them and many of the images I used are FPO and not licensed. Were I to sell them, I would either shoot new images or legitimately purchase the photo licenses from the image owners.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

First day of school!

Today was the very first day of the 2010-11 school year for Rosie, in second grade, and for Dash, our little kindergartener. Rosie picked out her outfit for school days ahead, a pretty red-orange dress that Auntie M bought her. I dressed Dash in a bowling shirt (why not, eh?) and brand-new shorts, both purchased while on our beach vacation.

We changed up some things on the kids this year, like instead of a bus ride from the neighborhood, they're riding a short bus from morning care. However, they're still riding the neighborhood bus home. I'm pretty sure we told the kids about this. And I know for sure that I wrote it down for the teachers, along with the ten million other things they collected last Thursday. Anyway, you can see where this is going, right?

Grandma Sheila and Monkeyrotica waited to pick up the kids at the 'hood stop and they weren't on the bus! Both kids had decided to take the short bus to the after-school care. Whoops!! At least their location was relatively easy to figure out, in hindsight.

Otherwise, it was a good but uneventful day, meeting old and new friends, getting back into a school-day routine. Dash has at least 6 or 7 kids he knew beforehand in his class & he's such an easygoing boy, he'll be fine.

Have a wonderful school year, everyone!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Elementary School Open House Today!

Five days and counting until the first day of school for both of my kids!!

We went to the open house this morning, where the class assignment lists were posted for all the students in this coming year. Since Rosie had been in a 1-2 multi-age class with Mrs. Clark, we knew that she would be continuing with her beloved teacher, despite restructuring. In this school year, the administration eliminated all multi-age classes. I have mixed feelings about this change, but I'm pretty sure the decision had a lot to with budgetary restrictions and limited overall County support for multi-age. We were all delighted to see Mrs. Clark and reunite with Rosie's old classmates and meet some new ones (there are two Rosie's in her class this year—unheard of!).

In the parking lot before the open house started, we ran into a friendly teacher named Mr. M. He told us that he was a Kindergarten teacher, so I pointed out that Dash (standing at my side) was a Kinder, while my guy volunteered, "I'm five years old!" Mr. M. didn't recognize Dash's name from his class list, but told us that he hoped Dash would be in his class. I was hoping, too, because he seemed like a kind and open person who would be a good match for our little man. Lo and behold, we arrived at Dash's assigned classroom with Mrs. Smith and found that Mr. M. was the teacher's assistant! The class looked awesome, with toys strewn everywhere, learning materials on every surface, and fun, creative opportunities everywhere.

I believe that 2010 is going to be a remarkable year for my kids.
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