Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Political Conversation with the Kindergardener

Who is that big guy (the large Abe Lincoln on I57)?
Abe Lincoln, he was our president a long time ago.

Is he still our president?

No, he was president over 100 years ago.

Is he dead?


How did he die?

Someone shot him?


John Wilkes Booth.

Was he a bad guy?

Well, he shot someone.


He didn't like what the president was doing.


President Lincoln thought everyone in America should be treated the same (kind of).

So, Obama is the president now.


What does he do?

He does lots of things. He eats breakfast, he plays with his kids, he exercises, he sleeps, he goes to the bathroom, he takes care of everyone in America.



I don't exercise everyday...How does he take care of everyone?

He makes important decisions to help all of us.

How does he know what to decide?

He learns as much as he can and makes the decision he thinks is best. He has a lot of people around him to tell him what is going on.

But what if someone tells him a lie?

That is a good question. He has to ask the people he trusts.

What does that mean?

Trust means to believe that someone is going to tell you the truth and do things that help you.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mental Fitness Friday

As for many families this time of year, stress can get a bit high when school begins...especially if one or both parents are educators.

Here are a couple ideas to keep stress under control:

*Find a schedule that works for the family for most days of the week. Get a calendar! This includes breakfast and bedtime for everyone. Keep some good breakfast options (e.g. hard boiled eggs, nuts, whole grain breads, oatmeal) in the house so you don't forget the most important meal of the day. Put yourself to bed at a reasonable time.

*Find time to exercise. Whether it be morning yoga before anyone knows your awake, a quick jog with the kids around the yard, or an evening fitness class....put it on the schedule and make time for it.

*Plan some meals ahead of time. Even make some and freeze them. That way, when the day has run crazy, you won't be tempted to run to the nearest fast food place (which will cost more in the wallet and the waist).

*Drink lots of water. Try not to reach for too many caffeinated beverages to keep you going throughout the day.

*Keep up with the laundry. That sounds impossible but if everyone has clean clothes in their drawers each morning, everyone can get dressed quickly and easily.

*Despite homework, laundry, dishes, and work, take time to play. Take at least half a day on the weekend to go out and play with the family.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cooper Cooks

My 3yo has been doing a lot of 'cooking' he says. He takes cookies and puts them in the freezer...then presenting "Frozen Cookies!" They are very good.

While watching Food Network, he explains his upcoming cooking show "Ty Freezes Things."

Ty is his name for anything other than himself (imaginary friend, bug, stuffed animal). And the basis of the show is about freezing things. So...good title.

I ask "what will you make?" He replies "I will freeze cookies." I ask "Will you make anything else?" He replies "Oh yes, I will freeze animal crackers, graham crackers, bread, and broccoli."

So watch out Next Food Network Star...make room for this new, fresh take on cuisine.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Food Journal

Practicing what I preach, I am trying hard to eat through our freezers and pantry. I am not buying much outside the basics of milk, OJ, and produce. After having my daughter make a list of everything in there and post it on the fridge, each day must contain at least 1 item from the freezer and 1 from the pantry. If anyone has a some interesting filo dough recipes, let me know.

Here is what we've had thus far:
Burgers* with caprese salad and green beans*
Tofu stir fry with rice noodles+ and veggie spring rolls* and corn*
Lemon Bars (made with butter*)
Barbeque Beef*, baked beans+, potato/cheese/corn+ casserole, spinach salad bar
Banana Bread (made with butter* and bananas*)

*freezer items
+pantry items

Friday, August 14, 2009

Frugal Friday

In tune with last week's tip...try to only buy what you need (or at least what you went to the store for).

How many of us run into the grocery store for a gallon milk (strategically placed in the back) and come out with two bags full of cookies, ice cream, and chips?

So for those quick, pick-up trips to the store:
First, NEVER go to the grocery store hungry....EVER!

Secondly, make a list (at least in your head).

Third, pick up a basket, canvas bag, or grab a large box from the produce shelves. NO CART.

This will limit the items you pick up since you have to use your arm strength to carry them through the store...especially if milk, juice, or laundry detergent is on the list.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Frugal Friday

My tip this week is simple. Eat what you have.

Despite the fact, I feel the need to go grocery shopping each week, we actually have enough food in our house for more than a week.

Before you shop, take a serious look at your cabinets, pantry, and freezer.
First, clean out anything that is expired or past its prime. And although I hate to throw anything away, if there is no way will will ever eat it, toss it or donate to a food pantry.

*Pick 5 items out and plan 5 meals around them (1 for each weeknight).

*Limit your shopping to milk, bread, and fresh produce for two weeks.

*Eat your leftovers (or tranform them into a new meal).

*Make an omelet! Breakfast, lunch, or dinner....scramble three eggs and fold in any leftovers or ANYTHING in your freezer (shrimp, chicken, sausage, veggies).

*Spend a day cooking and freeze. We have a lot of items that we buy for a recipe and then never get to. Spend a weekend day cooking 3 full meals. Put 1 in the fridge and two in the freezer.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Breastfeeding Doll?

Here is an interesting new product. Watch the video.

I pretty much agree with the expert. What do you think?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Harry Potter Mania

There has been a lot of Harry Potter activity around here lately. Books being read. Movies being watched. Questions looked up on the internet. Museum exhibits visited.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (153min, PG)
I've seen it twice. Once on opening day and again today after rereading the book. It was even better the second time. Since it has been awhile since any new HP activity has been offered, I was very anxious about this film. Overall, it is wonderful. As I said before, a satisfying adaptation of the book and an exciting and interesting film.

The first 10mins are fabulous. The mood is perfectly set for the challenging times ahead of the magical and muggle communities in the story. A couple important events occur during this opening that only those who have read the book will pick up on (read the Daily Prophets carefully). Its dark and tense with a fabulous soundtrack.

Once we finally get to Hogwarts, there is a nice balance between adolescent struggles and silliness and progression the battle with Voldemort. In between many kissing scenes with the students and talk of love and disappointment, the audience learns a lot about Tom Riddle (aka Voldemort). For the most part, the love stories are resolved by the end of the film. However, the many important pieces of information and events are only a starter course for the final two films. The great Snape debate is intensified as well.

At first viewing I was a bit disappointed that so much was absent from the film however upon a second look, many things are begun that I can only assume with be expanded on in the next films. Again, these are things that those who have not read the book will probably miss. This is only an assumption that I hope is correct (since otherwise I will ultimately be disappointed).

Especially since I have recently watched the first film, the acting of the young actors has developed into something special. It is quite amazing that the cast has remained intact for so long, including the supporting and background students. Daniel Radcliffe is just fabulous. His facial expressions are perfect to portray his teenage strife and amusement. Jim Broadbent, as his predecessors, makes a very memorable Professor Slughorn. Tom Felton brought a much needed depth to the increasing dark Draco Malfoy. As always, I would have loved a bit more Neville and Luna (they are my favorite).

Overall, it is great and I recommend it to anyone over 12 (I am surprised it is only rated PG). It may be a bit scary for the young ones and deals with adolescent romance. It is fabulous on the big screen but I am sure I will watch it on the small one many times as well.

Harry Potter, the Exhibit (Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, $26 (the includes museum admission/on-site parking is $16))
This museum exhibit showcases props, models, costumes, and set pieces from the six HP films. As you walk through admiring moving paintings, textbooks, and potion ingredients there are many film clips to remind you that the items in front of you were actually in the film. The highlight for me, a costume designer's daughter, were the costumes. The details are amazing. The exhibit includes items for all the major characters (the tiny clothes Harry wore in #1), the Great Hall and the Yule Ball, Hagrid's hut, Dementors and Deatheaters, House Elves, and the Forbidden so much more.

If you are a huge Harry Potter fan, this exhibit is a must-see. We spent about 1 1/2 hrs there and got our money's worth. I recommend it for people over 12. I will warn you with little ones, the exhibit enters directly into a gift shop filled with fabulous (and expensive) HP merchandise.

I also recommend you use your money and see the rest of the museum. You could easily spend the entire day there.