Archives for March 2010

TIL Tuesday: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Are you watching this show yet?

I mentioned Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution last week – I saw the premiere episode Sunday evening and watched that same episode AGAIN Friday night, followed by a new hour of the series. And yeah, I’m pretty much hooked.

I love the idea – the concept – and I love thinking of what the end result could be if he is successful in revolutionizing the way we eat – even if only at the school level. I’ve watched in awe as Jamie has made efforts to make positive changes in the menu of this West Virginia elementary school, only to be met with steely-faced mean-spirited opposition from the lunch lady crew. Those same people, of course, are afraid they’re going to look bad on television – yet seem to revel in smug glee whenever Jamie hits a stumbling block in his challenge.

Why are they so resistant? Set in their ways? They just don’t like this stranger butting in? The cooks were so giddy when Jamie’s menu doesn’t meet the “two starch” requirement and I was boggled – TWO starches? Because we’re concerned that our kids don’t consume QUITE ENOUGH carbs?

I realize there are other factors in play – that there are government regulations on the nutrition content of school meals (and I don’t have stats or specifics on it – mainly because I’m just too lazy to Google it). I know those nutrition guidelines are based in some sort of reason – a common theory I’ve heard is that for many kids, that may be their only real meal they get each day. But there is a difference between having a real NOURISHING meal and having miscellaneous chicken parts all ground up together and squashed into a deep fried nugget and served to children (and when I saw Jamie do this on Friday night’s show, I literally cringed).

Jamie Oliver could easily be condescending – to the employees of the school, to the children and to the families he works with – but yet, he remains focused on the goal to promote better eating. HEALTHIER eating.

Are you watching this? Have you gotten sucked in too? What are school lunches like in your neck of the woods? Have you signed Jamie’s petition?

No one asked me or paid me to talk about this show. Just a fan. A very enthusiastic, nerdy fan.

Weekly Winners – Into the Great Outdoors

Be sure to check out a few of my favorite shots this week, taken yesterday in Saugatuck, Michigan — and then a bit closer to home.  I love the WEEKLY WINNERS – so be sure to drop by, give Lotus some love, and visit the other participants as well.

And then be sure to scroll down to the post below this for BIG NEWS about a photo scavenger hunt to raise moohlah for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

I wanted to go to the beach. We found the woods instead.

Do you know how much I love ice skating? A LOT.

Lake Michigan - Some days you just need to see some water.

Announcing: A Photo Scavenger Hunt!

And now, some big news!

As some of y’all know – I’ll be walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer this summer. In addition to the awesome group that let me be on their team last year, I’ll be joined this year by one of my favorite peeps, Kat. We’re pretty dedicated to the cause and fundraising for it – but we wanted to make it fun.


We’re doing a photo scavenger hunt.  To enter, a minimum donation of $10 can be made either via our paypal (bloggersforbewbs AT gmail), or directly to our Avon Walk Pages (My linkie is here, and Kat’s is here). All funds will ONLY be used for our Avon Walk fundraising and we’re happy to send receipts if you’d like.

Kat and I have brainstormed a list of NINE words to give you some creative direction – we didn’t make them TOO specific – we wanted you to still have freedom to take shots you love.

Compile your nine shots into a 3×3 matrix (I used Picnik – I have mad love for Picnik – it just makes this easy).

Upload to our FLICKR group by the APRIL 15 deadline (gotta do something to make tax day fun, right?).

And then? THERE WILL BE PRIZES. We’ve got gifties from BioElements skincare, Eden Fantasys, an original piece of jewelry from the Bead Girl, (JUST ADDED) several awesome gifts from Vera Bradley (including a watch, a tote and some other goodies!) — and a few other things are in the works (Kat and I will be updating our blogs with more information). We’ll award prizes to the best overall mosaic and the best individual picture within a mosaic.

Any remaining prizes will be given at random! (WHEE! Which means HEY, even if you take every shot with a cell phone with spaghetti sauce smeared on the lens, YOU CAN STILL WIN!).

The NINE words we have selected are:


We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Looking in the rearview mirror

This morning after our traditional Friday morning breakfast of donuts for the girls and a steaming cappuccino for myself, we piled back into the car to begin the school drop offs.

First stop was Pumpkin’s school. She was eager to go today – dressed like a Pippi Longstocking/Punky Brewster mashup (jeans topped by a jean skirt with a short sleeve shirt layered underneath a pink sweater – I’m not entirely sure how she could move with all her bulky layers). She gleefully joined a game of hide and seek with a friend and The Princess and I ventured back into the sunny day to get back on the road.

In the van and buckled in, we turned on the road again and started driving towards the school. We don’t always talk much in the car. Sometimes we sing to the radio (usually, we do), but not so much talking. I was taking in the road and the way the light cast a golden hue on the day.

Then I glanced back in the rear view.

The Princess’s reflection took my breath away.

She was deep in thought – brow furrowed. Her pale blue eyes were focused – not so much on any particular thing, perhaps, but fixed on something, not glancing about. Her smooth cheeks, her dainty nose (which she does NOT get from me!), her mouth set in a slightly open half smile. She had been trying to figure out something, she said later. Did she want to buy erasers at the book fair and some such.

All I could think as I was looking at her face, though, was just how truly lucky I am.

Sometimes I forget it – sometimes I get frustrated with little things (oh! The bickering! The wadded up bath towels that never get hung on the towel rods), but then I see their faces. When I look at my daughters – when they don’t know that I am seeing them – I am truly seeing them.

And I am lucky.

Thursday Ten: New Strings Edition

1. My guitar has new strings. I was lazy and I just had the music store put them on – it took them four days and the cost? Excessive for strings (my teacher’s eyes bugged out real big when I showed her the receipt). Yes, lesson learned – I’ll do it myself next time. But wow, my strings DO sound great.

2. Began working on two songs today – Jack Johnson’s “Sittin’ Waitin’ Wishing” (for its use of bar, major, minor, and seventh chords) and “Falling Slowly” because it’s one of my favorite songs of all time. I was one of the few who wasn’t totally enamored by the movie “Once” – but I sure do love this song.

3. Did y’all watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on Sunday night? What did you think? I was STUNNED. I guess not entirely surprised – but yeah, stunned. Expect more from me about this topic. The next episode airs on Friday night. Watch it, and we’ll talk about it next week. {Also, I really hope the lunch ladies/cooks at my daughter’s school aren’t that cranky!}

4. Thank you so much to everyone who gave me feedback about The Princess and things I could do moving forward in absence of a gifted program in her school. Good news – we do have an appointment with her principal to sit down and talk about how we can keep her challenged in third grade and beyond — as well as pairing her with a teacher who doesn’t mind doing the extra work to keep her loving education.

5. That wasn’t the ONLY parent-teacher conference for the week. Oh yeah. Yesterday was my first conference with Pumpkin’s new preschool and I was pleasantly surprised. I think what surprised me most was how social my daughter is – not to the extent where the teacher says she’s a chatterbox – but that she’s friendly with all the kids. The teacher said, “You’d never know she hasn’t been here since September. She just found her place here.” Awesome.

6. Last week I had lots of extra fun social stuff planned – including dinner out with a former coworker/friend and my good friend. TWO NIGHTS OUT. That also means two meals I got to eat that weren’t cooked by yours truly. You can see, I’m sure, why I am mourning last week a lil bit, right? Tonight I’ll be cooking Cuban black beans and rice which means that I fully anticipate getting to hear from my children what a rotten cook I am. It’s inspiring, really.

7. I caved in to the inexplicable urge I had to buy matching dresses for my daughters so they can dress alike for fun spring pictures on the beach. Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either but I think it will be cute. I also think they’ll hate me for this in ten years.

8. In just over 70 days, I’ll be walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer – I’m VERY excited. I’m also hoping that it doesn’t rain. Rain would be bad.

9. American Idol this week… So… They could choose from Billboard Top 100s and they all chose crap songs? What was THAT all about? You have all that amazing music at your disposal and whut? Not impressed. At this point, I have no favorites – but several people who annoy me severely (Didi, I’m talkin’ to you).

10. According to the preschool’s calendar, Saturday is Photography Day. I plan to celebrate by taking some pictures (DUH). MAAAAAAAAAYBE I should celebrate by asking the Photography Elves to leave a new camera for me. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were really Photography Elves?

When Your Child Is A Smartypants

The Princess is a very smart child. I know, every mom thinks her kid is the smartest, prettiest, bestest, superlativiest kid (And all of you mothers are RIGHT), but factually speaking, The Princess is pretty bright.

And I can’t even say that it’s much that I had much to do with – I mean, I wasn’t a flashcard flipping mom and I didn’t play Mozart to my pregnant belly. She just is THAT SMART.

This morning, Hubby and I sat down for parent-teacher conferences – the typically fifteen minute conference stretched to thirty as we discussed our kiddo and our concerns. The biggest concern has been that school will be too easy for her. This comes from life experience: I FLEW through school – right up until I meandered into college thinking I would take the world by storm and life came to a screeching halt. The grades I had once snagged with ease did not come so easily. In fact, I struggled. A lot. There were tears. A lot of them. And OH THE FRUSTRATION.

I don’t want that to happen to her.

Well, wait. I do.

I want her to be frustrated.

I want her to be frustrated in little bits and pieces along the way. I want her to hit a road block and I want her to figure out how to solve the problem. I want her to have to ask the teacher for help. I want her to have to spend a few extra minutes checking and double checking herself. Not all the time, mind you. Just occasionally.

Prior to conferences we talked – do we need to move her to another school district? Skip a grade? The school system that jumps through hoops to help meet Stepson and his special education requirements doesn’t as readily make concessions for kids that are ahead of the game. There’s no gifted program or other such programs in place to enrich the curriculum for kids who might need a little MORE to keep them challenged, engaged and not bored with the whole process.

We’ve been lucky to have hit the Teacher jackpot this year – from the first moment of the conference, as we settled into tiny plastic chairs when The Princess’s teacher said, “I just love your daughter.” It’s been obvious to me throughout the year that she thinks my kiddo is pretty awesome – I believe she also feels a kinship with her – she relates to her. She told us today, “I was The Princess when I was in school. I teach the way I learned.”

Though the teacher didn’t think skipping a grade would really hurt The Princess (though she said that we’d probably need a boost to get her to that level math-wise), she instead urged us to take another route, and is helping us navigate the system to ensure that we keep finding teachers to challenge our daughter – not just in areas where she is already strong.

It’s funny to me – and I commented as we pulled out of the parking lot, “You’d think that if your child was ‘getting it’, and not having difficulty, your conference would be five minutes long – Okay, she’s doing great. See you later! But that’s not the case at all. There’s a whole other realm of things to consider.”

What I know is this:

After thirty minutes with my daughter’s teacher I know that my daughter is not afraid to ask for help when she needs it. The Princess flourishes when helping other students in the class. She cries when she’s reprimanded (Oh yeah, I knew this one already). She talks about the family a lot (particularly about how much I love to bake). For the most part other kids like her but apparently the teacher is experiencing some cattiness already with the second grade girls and oh my god I can’t believe they’re catty already, I thought I had a little longer til that started. We have options for finding a teacher who is a good fit for her for third grade next year and her teacher is helping with that. She’s a nice kid. She’s a good kid and there are people who are not related to her that think so.


It’s a pain to get out of those little elementary school chairs.

Weekly Winners: It was spring for about two minutes

I LOVE the Weekly Winners photo-blog-hopping-extravaganza. It really has become one of those things about my Sunday morning that I look forward to most – linking up to Lotus’s post and checking out all the amazing shots people have been taking all week.

So take a moment to visit the other participants – a lot of people doing amazing work with their cameras.

When you're driving and you have no barrette.... a binder clip is an acceptable alternative.


My shadow has really long legs. Like whoa.

Chillaxin' in the sun. Outside!

Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away....

And then?

Yesterday it snowed. GRRRRR.

Thursday Ten: Let the March Madness Begin!

1.I filled out brackets for the NCAA basketball hooey. I do it every year. I do it knowing that I really don’t have much of a clue about basketball and basically I am flying by the seat of my pants – I don’t look at stats or what seed they are or any of that mumbo-jumbo. The funny thing? Usually I stomp the people who spent hours of research time creating their bracket choices. Suckers. (EDIT: I should point out that as of 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, my brackets are not looking too good. In fact, they’re looking pretty dismal. That’s what I get for gloating about my fantabulous guessing skills. They have failed me. They have failed me big).

2. My favorite WordPress guru has updated my site here – which I love – but what I love most of all is that now this is mobile friendly. If you bookmark me on your phone (and you totally should), you won’t have to work too hard to find me while you’re sitting in a dentist’s office waiting for a root canal or hanging out in the pickup line at school.

3. The weather this week? AH-MAZE-ING. The girls have been out drawing in the driveway with sidewalk chalk (there’s a nice drawing of Count Dorkula that I’m pretty sure The Princess had a hand in creating). Two outdoor runs this week so far. Love love love.

4. Last night I went out to dinner with a friend of mine. It was St Patrick’s day, so… Italian food, right? Anyway – it was awesome to catch up with her and after dinner we ordered dessert. Dessert in a shot glass is just NOT ENOUGH DESSERT. It sure was tasty, but… I coulda eaten two more.

5. Taking Pumpkin with me to guitar lessons is not always the most fun way to go – but for now with our schedule it’s what we’re dealing with. She’s been fine til now – today she was “booooooooooored.” Even with a full pad of PostIts at her disposal she just wanted to get out of there and get home. Kind of makes it a little less fun for moi.

6. Speaking of guitar – wrapped up Ingrid Michaelson and started working on a Citizen Cope song – it’s about time to make a new CD of songs I want to work on for guitar. Any ideas? (NO FREEBIRD).

7. March is National Reading Month so my calendar has been filled with special reading-related activities for both of the girls at school. Every day is SOMETHING – today was “Bring Your Favorite Book Day” for The Princess. Tuesday, Pumpkin had “Read a Hat Day” (for which she picked a hat that had no writing on it!). None of these things are mandatory as far as the teacher is concerned, but heaven forbid you are the mom that forgets any of these. I can’t wait until April.

8. Rolling Stones week on American Idol. Meh. Watching the show the other night made me realize I only know three songs by the Rolling Stones. And I really have no desire to know more. (But yes, I like the Beatles, so… yeah).

9. All you camera geeks (I mean that lovingly, you know. MWAH. Big kisses, camera people) – if I was lookin’ to upgrade from my point and shoot to a DSLR, what should I get? And why? Tell me why you love your camera. Pretty please?

10. I think I want to live in a country where afternoon siestas are totally the norm. I could totally siesta right now. For hours. Too much to do, not enough energy. Mr. President: Mandatory siestas, please.

I’m not even a tiny bit Irish

Writer’s Block – A series of haiku

I have writer’s block
The blinking cursor and blank screen
are driving me nuts.

I could write about
how difficult it can be
to shop for new shoes

I finally found
a new pair today – six stores
later, I have shoes!

Someone on Twitter
suggested that I should write
about puffins but…

I googled puffins
and I’m pretty sure that I
am puffin-clueless.

I could write about
how I am wearing short sleeves
No coat! The sun shines!

I could write about
my love of saltine crackers
but that’s nothing new.

I could write about
American Idol or
trashy tv shows…

But you expect that
from me anyway, don’t you?
That’s not new, either.

I could write about
how I’m looking to upgrade
my Canon and how

I really don’t know
what model would be best. (You
can answer that, please).

I could write about
haikus and how I’ve never
really written one.

That would explain it
if my count is messed up or
if I did it wrong.

But, still I’m blocky.
Maybe I should ask you to
pick my next topic.