Mama Ellen's

A place for thoughts and ideas on everything from family to fois gras.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Magnet Schools

Some might think that this is a moot point considering that we have decided to do at least some level of home-schooling but I still think it is an important piece of info. Just as a summary for anyone who is visiting this blog for the first time, our eldest child Bug is gifted academically. His areas of interest currently are geography and human anatomy. Emotionally and socially, he is his tender age of 4 1/2 years. We were looking for a school that would give him the academic challenge with the emotional social support. Now here is what I think of magnet schools.

Magnet schools are the educational version of a wolf in sheep's clothing. When I went in search of a school program that offered options for gifted children the magnet schools were presented as a wonderful opportunity for his academic and social enrichment. Here is the information that was given to me:

".....Science, Math, And Technology Magnet will provide rich learning opportunities for students through daily, integrated science, math, and technology. In addition to a comprehensive inquiry-based, hands-on classroom science and math program, students will work in a lab complete with lab coats, current technology and equipment to do experiments and collect and analyze data. Through partnerships with the Science Museum of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota, students will collaborate with real scientists and mathematicians in actual research projects."

Sounds great, right? WRONG. As with all things political, and don't be fooled, our educational system is quite political, there is a catch. And as far as I am concerned, these programs are not for academic growth but are rather for fulfilling a liberal agenda.

These magnet schools were devised by the Northwest Suburban Integration School District.

What is NWSISD?
"Northwest Suburban Integration School District is a non-profit organization that promotes district and community-wide multicultural educational programs. We provide our schools and communities a variety of programs and services to help enhance diversity and cultural awareness."

Ok, so why exactly is this organization involved with the magnet schools?
"Specifically, NWSISD emerged because Brooklyn Center and Osseo School Districts were identified as racially isolated as defined by the new desegregation rule, which took effect in January 1999. A "racially isolated" school district is defined in the law as "a district where the district-wide enrollment of protected students exceeds the enrollment of protected students of an adjoining district by more than 20 percentage points."

Who are the "protected students"?
The rule defines "protected students" as those who identify as African/Black Americans, Asian/Pacific Americans, Chicano/Latino Americans, American Indian/Alaskan Native or multiracial students having origins in more than one of these categories or one of these categories plus Caucasian.

And what does this mean?
According to the law, if a district or school is identified as "racially isolated" the district must work with neighboring districts to create a voluntary desegregation plan.

What is essentially implied by this program is that the schools identified as racially isolated are not able to provide a comparable education as would a non-racially isolated school. Desegregation is required for these isolated students to receive an equal education and as a result other students that are viewed as "privileged" in this area are given the chance to experience multi-racial and multi-ethnic diversity.

Our son loves to discuss and learn about other cultures. He is fascinated with how people are different and yet essentially the same. And my husband and I help him in this pursuit of knowledge on a regular basis. My issue is that academics have taken the back seat to teaching diversity. I am concerned as to exactly how this diversity would be taught. We live in a very anti-Caucasian, anti-male society. Will other racial and ethnic backgrounds be highlighted and celebrated and the American Caucasian be vilified. Unfortunately I think the answer is yes. And although no one likes to admit it, isn't this just another form of segregation.

I think that each child should have the opportunity to receive the best education possible. I believe in school choice. I also believe that sometimes choices require sacrifice. However, I do not believe that educational advatage should be given for the sake of fulfilling an agenda. If the goal of these programs is to bring together children of different cultures that share the same academic interests, I would tolerate them much better. But there is the feeling in my gut that says this just isn't the case. And I'm not about to let my son be a guinea pig.

Friday, January 28, 2005

A New Bed, Attempting to Crawl, and A Trip to the Dentist

Well, this has been a busy week with lots of stuff going on.

Boo Boo Bear
After several nights off Boo falling out of her toddler bed, she finally got a big girl bed this week. Actually she got the top half of the bunkbed that she and her brother Bug are going to share. Unfortunately, I was a little slow in gettting the frame put together, so the first night she slept on a mattress that was on top of the bunk bed shipping box. It was still pretty cute none the less. Once the real bed was up, she was thrilled. Oddly enough, her bed is now taller than her brothers'. For some reason I didn'r realize/remember that the legs of the bed would be taller to allow for head room once the beds are put together. Oh well, have I mentioned that she is a little monkey. She just grabbed ahold of the guard rail and flung herself right over. And for any safety natzis that might be reading this, no she will not be on the top bunk once they are put together.

Her other activity of the week has been throwing tea parties. I have had tea with bears, Barney, Barbie, and her cousins M & M from Iowa( they were not really here but she misses them and thus pretends that they visit).

Blurg a.k.a. Fuzzy Duck a.k.a. Minnie Me
Little Blurg has been trying really hard to crawl. She drags herself along with one arm really well. At least well enough that she can go from room to room. And she can get up on her hands and knees, she just can't cooridinate the movements. And today she tried to pull herself up on the couch trim and failed thus gaining her first motility battle scar. It is a beautiful goose egg on the noggin. She was definately more angry and hurt. She is a tough little fuzzy duck. Now if I can only convince Boo Boo that her little sister is not a bank, life will be good.

Bugga Bugga Boy
And as are all things with our Bug, our trip to the dentist this week was fun. Bug needed to get a filling in between his molars. Most kids, even older ones would freak out a little but not Bug. We walked in, he greeted the receptionist and and got himself signed in. After a little small talk, he went over to check out the fish tank. He then announced that 2 fish were dead. One receptionist was a little concerned, the other was stunned. Why? Because, he was right. Between his appointement 2 weeks ago and this week, two fish had died. When asked how he knew he said, "Last time there were 13 and this time there are only 11. Will there only be 9 left the next time I come in?"

They chatted more. Then one asked if he liked sports. His response (as he jogged in place on a chair), "I like running. Did you know that runners from Kenya are some of the fastest in the world?" That's our Bug.

He also likes basketball . It's fun to dribble but he can't make a basket. He also got to talk about his trip to CA when he was 2 and his most recent trip to Iowa. That is where his favorite cousin Mac lives. He proceeded to talk about all the things they like to do together, jumping on the bed, off the furniture, etc. Bug and Mac are only 6 months apart and look and act more like brothers. And now everyone at the dentist office knows about it.

There are many other funny stories of the week but they'll have to wait. Plus, I need to start/finish my rant about Magnet schools. Hee Hee Hee.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Just a Quickie

Thanks to everyone for making me so welcome at Keegans on Saturday. It was a great time and hopefully I will be able to snag a sitter for a Thursday night.

Right now things are quite hectic and there isn't time for a real post so, I'll try to write later.

Friday, January 21, 2005

On the Menu.....A drink is named

This little concoction was created one night when I wanted a margarita but we were out of tequila. A daiquiri just wouldn’t do so I began to blend. This is a fru-fru drink but it is good. My measurements are approximate, and some only consist of the glub factor. (You know, the glub glub sound liquid makes as it comes out of a bottle.) Originally I was calling this a pink flamingo since I had to use a flamingo zoo pals plate as a lid for the blender. Unfortunately, this name is taken so I am now referring to this as a Frozen Pink Penguin, similar reasoning.

Warning: It is very easy to consume many of these drinks. It is high on the stumble meter.

What you need: Blender
1 mug of ice
4-5 glubs strawberry margarita/daiquiri mix
3 glubs lime margarita mix
1 shot cointreau
1-2 shots vodka
A straw

Place all the ingredients(minus the straw) into the blender and liquify. Pour back into the mug, insert straw and drink.

YUM! Hiccup! Enjoy!

On the Menu.....Meatloaf Vocanos

So you may be asking, “what exactly is a meatloaf volcano?”. A meatloaf volcano is a fun way for kids to eat something that they normally wouldn’t. Bug will not touch meatloaf. But turn it into a volcano and there is no problem. If my memory serves me, this idea came from a kids in the kitchen cookbook from Betty Crocker. I first made it when I was 12 and have been making variations ever since. Cooking any meatloaf recipe in a ring instead of a loaf can cut 10-15 minutes off your cooking time.

Here is what you need: Favorite meatloaf/meatball recipe
Cookie sheet- non-stick
Ketchup, mustard, salsa what ever you choose
Your imagination

Just mix up your favorite meatloaf or meatball recipe. Make 4 donut shaped meat rings directly on the cookie sheet and 4 golf ball sized meatballs. Bake at 350 until done. Place 1 ring on each plate and top with 1 ball. Drizzle with ketchup and mustard. Voila, a mini volcano.

Want to make an island? Start by placing the volcano on top of a lettuce leaf. Add a couple of small mounds of cheesy mashed potatoes(sand dunes) and stick in a couple of asparagus for trees. You can even hide a couple of carrot slices or pieces of corn and call them golden treasure. Kids don’t like mashed potatoes? Spread some ketchup around the plate and top with a few tater-tots. You now have boulders floating in lava. Celery sticks can act as trees, raisins as bugs, and strawberries as mushrooms.

Let the kids go and see what they come up with.

T T T Tamiflu

So I took the young'ns into the doctor yesterday and after the nose and throat swabs, and Boo Boo's chest x-ray, it is offical, influenza is in the house. And luckily no strep or pneumonia. Since noth Bug and Boo were in the first days of ailment, they were prescribed TAMIFLU. I was also put on this anti-viral med as well, as a precaution. Supposedly, it helps to shorten the duration and severity of the stymptoms. Let's just say IT ROCKS!! Both the kiddies' temps dropped to close to normal range. They have energy and appetites. I got some sleep. Hurray!! Let's just hope this luck continues.

If you or any family member comes down with "the flu" make sure to ask your doctor for tamiflu for you and the rest of the family. It is worth it.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Welcome to the Infirmary

Just as Bogus blogged in his health update a house of flu is not fun. So far Doug, Bug, and Boo Boo have been taken as casualties. Fevers have ranged from 101 to 104.5. Our littlest Blurg seems a bit out of sorts today but hopefully she will not get struck down. And as for me, it is amazing what lots of sugar and caffiene can do. It has been almost 2 weeks since I have had more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep.

So hopefully we will be well enough to go to Keegans this weekend. We'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Blabble Labble Abble

It is just one of THOSE days.

How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood

Peter piper picked a peck of pickled pepperd. If Peter piper picked a peck of pickle peppers then how many pickled peppers did peter piper pick.

I'm the Grumpy old Troll who lives under the bridge. Hey! I'm the Grumpy old Troll who lives under the bridge.

In the Bahamas...In his pajamas....In the Bahamas....In his pajamas

64, 64, 64 Zoo lane...6 years old, 6years old, 6years old today

If you understand this, you understand my day.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Now Showing....Bug Live

Bug and I went out for some mom and son bonding this weekend. First we hit Hammetts Learning center so he could pick up a book on human anatomy and then we went to lunch at Subway. He loves deli sandwiches. Anyway, as we ate we discussed the overhead transparencies in his new book. And thus, Bug Live, began. He would ask me questions. I would ask him questions. He would ask the people waiting in line to place their orders questions. It always went something like this:

Bug "Know what?"
Unsuspecting Patron (UP) "What?"
Bug "The small intestine is the longest organ in your body."
UP "Really, did your Mom tell you that?"
Bug " No silly, I learned it on my new computer game about the body. Did you know the large intestine is where the poop is made and then it come out your rectum?"
(He smiles that devilish grin)
(giggles from the teenage girls in the place)
UP stutter stutter "What else do you know?"
Bug "A lot. Want to hear about the circulatory system?"

Next UP "Sure"

And so on and so on and so on for about an hour. He also got to talk to 2 EMTs (Emergency Medical Techs) that were on their lunch break. They thought he was a riot.

Now there was one lady that wasn't too impressed. But then again he pointed out that he knew she was a woman because she had a big pelvis. Men have smaller pelvic bones. (These are the times when I just smile, shrug, and blush.)

Eventually lunch was over. He put on his stegasaurus fleece hat, asked me to adjust his spiderman boots and we left. And this is when I started to think more seriously about homeschooling.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Kids Raised in a Foodie Family

Both Doug and I are foodies. We love to cook, eat and critique good food. From everything I’ve heard, Doug has always had a relatively extensive pallet and a willingness to try most things. As for myself, I have always had a very sensitive pallet and as a result tend to be pickier. Before Doug and I got married, he had little experience in the kitchen whereas I was practically raised there. So after being together for a few years we started cooking together. Doug learned how to sear and saute while I expanded my range of tastes. We started going to different restaurants and then tried to reproduce some of the meals at home. We would judge the food and try to determine what could have been done differently. Food and wine became a hobby. Over time we became true foodies.

And then Bug was born.

Our culinary experiences changed dramatically after Bug’s birth. He was very colicky and extremely high maintenance. Some may say that is just what happens with a baby. Bug was different. He didn’t sleep, he vomited 9+ times a day, and could only be consoled by me. This meant that our food excursions(at home and out) were put on hold for a long time

Around 10 months, he began to eat more solids and we introduced him into our type of table food. His favorites were steak with A1 sauce, asparagus, and tomatoes. By the way, he would not eat steak cooked past mid-rare because it was “too dry”. The more he tried different foods, the more he became interested in how they were made. So by the time he was 2, he was helping in the kitchen. It has mostly been pour this or stir that type of cooking but recently that has expanded into sauteing onions and even cutting fruit. For Christmas he asked Santa for a juicer so he could squeeze his own OJ. So far he was made OJ, grapefruit juice, apple juice, and strawberry juice. He combined the strawberry juice with lemon yogurt in the blender to make a smoothie. With all this being said, he is our future Chef.

Then there is Boo. Now she has never had the pallet that Bug has, but that is not to say she hasn’t tried. Once again asparagus was a favorite and she also like mashed potatoes. But over time she has become more and more fickle. Granted she is two and toddlers are fickle by nature. Sometimes though she reminds me of my childhood food issues. In the beginning she didn’t like strawberries because they were too bumpy. Anything with too much texture has the potential of being rejected. Things needed to be cooked “just right”. And for these reasons she will be a future Food Critic.

And finally there is Blurg. You might wonder what type of culinary experience a 9 month hold can have. Well, her first love was garlic mashed potatoes, heavy on the garlic. She also likes her potatoes drizzled with a little truffle oil. She like marinated flank steak. Granted, she doesn’t have any teeth, but she will gnaw on the meat like there is no tomorrow. She also likes strawberries, raspberries and sauteed spinach. We don’t know if she will like to cook or critique but she is well on her way to becoming a foodie as well.

So this is what happens when kids are raised in a foodie environment. Now we just need to wait see if these traits follow them into adulthood.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

On the Menu.....Bloody Mary Meatloaf

Just to clarify, this is not a drink but rather a meatloaf that uses the basic ingredients of a bloody-mary.

For many years, Doug had an aversion to meatloaf. I have always been somewhat fond of it. So with some persuasion and the promise that is would not taste or smell like vomit, his meatloaf experiences began. It all began with the basic italian style loaf made with spaghetti sauce. Bloody Mary style meatloaf is one of our favorites.


  • 1 lb hamburger or ground chuck
  • 2 c. bloody mary mix
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbs chopped dill weed
  • 1 tbs minced garlic (or garlic powder to taste)
  • 1/4 c bread crumbs
  • 2 tbs milk
  • oil to saute

  1. Place your favorite bloody mary mix into a sauce pan heat until liquid is reduced by half. Set aside to cool.
  2. While the sauce cools. Saute the celery and onion over low heat until soft. Cool.
  3. In a bowl combine meat, ½ cup sauce and remaining ingredients. Salt and pepper to preference.
  4. Mix gently until ingredients are blended. Do not over work or the loaf will be tough.
  5. Place in a loaf pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes. Remove and top with remaining sauce. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Side note: This recipe can be made using 1 egg as the binder. I altered the recipe due to Bug’s egg allergy.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Coming Attractions

Just so I don't forget my blogging ideas, here is a small list of some topics, in no particular order, coming in the very near future.

  • On the Menu.....Bloody Mary Meatloaf
  • On the Menu......Meatloaf Volcanos
  • On the Menu......A Drink yet to be Named
  • What I don't like about Magnet Schools
  • Kids raised in a Foodie Family
  • Kids raised in a Conservative Family
  • On the Menu.....Favorite desserts
  • Respectfulness vs Acceptance: A Simple Diversity Lesson

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Annoyance with the Education System

This is just a little mini rant. I've been looking into kindergarten options for Bug and I just want to say, " What the ......?!" To the point, the people have been very nice and have tried to be accommodating but no one seems to know what to do with a highly gifted child. I was told in not so many words, and I'm para-phrasing, schools receive money for special education but there is no real focus or fund allocation for extremely bright/gifted children. Essentially, it is felt that these children will pretty much be fine on their own. They'll figure things out.

As far as the concept of "no child left behind", unless there is some form of physical or mental impairment involved, these children don't qualify for anything. I'm not looking for a hand-out or government subsidized program, but could I at least find a way to help him reach his potential. Or hell, let him be tested so we can see where his potential is going. Yes, we can have him tested independently but those results may be given little credibility.

IQ and other intelligence tests are not recommended or really respected for children his age. You see I've been told that most children "level off" by the time they are second or third grade. And this is when the usual testing takes place. Hmmmm.

Let's connect the dots;
Dot one: Take one gifted child and put him in a non-nurturing educational environment.
Dot two: Keep him there for 3-4 for years with minimal to no cognitive stimulation.
Dot three: Test him.
Dot four: Check results.
The child appears to have slowed down enough to be in-line with his peers.

UGH!!!!! Enough of my not-so-mini-rant. There are more schools to call tomorrow.

Black eyes with peas

Bug tried to do a flip on the mini-trampoline today and in perfect form he smacked his nose and upper lip. The nose looked bad especially with the impending black eye. He wouldn't use an ice pack because it was too cold and rough. Dr. Mom to the rescue. How about a pea pack. (One of the best companions for a breastfeeding mom is that bag of frozen peas that has probably been sitting in the freezer for ever. Peas conform to varying shapes better than ice cubes or packs.) Bug thought I was crazy. I just took some left over birthday balloons, stuffed them with 1-2 dozen peas, added a smidge of water, tied them off and voila, instant mini ice packs. I must admit, these are pretty cool and I will be making more, just to have on hand. Quick, easy, disposable, and kid sized, what could be better.

Just call me Martha

I had a very Martha Stewart moment yesterday. My sister-in-law is going to a football party and needed a dessert idea. The menu will be snack food, so the obvious ideas were cookies or brownies. This is when the Martha lobe of my brain kicked in. How about football shaped rice crispie treats. Substitute Coco Pebbles for crispies, shape them into footballs and then decorate with either frosting, plain crispies, or anything white. Ta Da kitschy Crispies. This idea stemmed from the "Dinosaur" eggs that Bug, Boo, and I made using Fruity Pebbles, although I would recommend using 50/50 pebbles to crispies. And to minimize the sticky factor, wear vinyl gloves lightly coated with margerine when making the shapes.

Birthday Memories

Well my 35th birthday has come and gone. I have to say that it was quite pleasant considering that Blurg was sick. Bug and Boo helped make an egg free cake for the occasion. Bug is allergic to eggs and peanuts. Boo appears to have the peanut allergy although she has not been tested. Anyway, the cake was ok, nothing stellar. Of course after going to all the effort I had hoped that Bug would like it. He didn’t and that was fine too.

As the day went on, I realized that during my lifetime, I have has some really odd birthdays. There are some funny and not so funny memories that I will share. So let’s begin.

Jan. 10, 1970 I was born. No I don’t remember this but trust me, I hear the story EVERY year. I won’t shock you with all the gory details. But here are the basics. 9lb 3oz 21 ½ inches born at 6:21 a.m. in a little farming community in central Illinois. My parents were expecting a boy. The doctor pulled me out, slapped me on the tush, and my dad pronounced, “It’s another split tail,” They did not have a girl’s name selected. My dad wanted Nelle Lynn after his mother. My mom wanted Ellen and convinced my dad that it was good compromise since Ellen was Nelle spelled backwards. During different phases of my childhood I was sometimes referred to as Nelle and sometimes Jimmy (James was the boy name). I had a full head of black hair, dark eyes and was apparently a good sleeper. My mom said she would wake me several times a night just to make sure I hadn’t died in my sleep. Unfortunately, my mom didn’t stop this habit until,,,,,well that’s a whole other story.

Jan. 1975 - The weather was unseasonable warm for central Illinois. Rain the previous days but my birthday party day was supposed to be sunny and mild. And it was. Unfortunately, my mother had decided to invite every girl in my kindergarten class over for the party. For most kids this would have been wonderful BUT you see, I am an introvert. My mom is an EXTROVERT. And to top it off I was shy and geeky already. So, I had my first panic attack the night before the big get together. I woke up sometime after midnight, and raided the fridge. My mom was on one of her fad diets and so there was a gallon container of cut up celery and carrots. I think I ate most of the contents. Anyway, the next morning I didn’t feel so good (go figure) but since the party was that afternoon, it was off to school I went. Tensions mounted all morning until finally circle time then....HURL. I was sent home, on the bus with a empty coffee can from the teachers lounge, just in case I couldn’t make it. Good call because I couldn’t. By the time I got home, my mom was furious, after all we did have about 25 kids and their moms coming over to the house. Needless to say, I ended up spending the entire party in my room, in bed while the guests got to eat cake and ice cream. All gifts were sent home since I wasn’t able to open them during the party. Sigh.

Jan.1980 - This was a typical winter. I only invited a few guests to this party and most of the evening went pretty well. We had dinner and games and were getting ready to open gifts and have cake. My big request this year was for white frosting on my cake. Family tradition was chocolate cake, chocolate frosting. After much begging my mom agreed to the white frosting and she made a boiled butter-cream. This is really good icing because it tastes like divinity or marshmallow fluff. Unfortunately, it also reacts like marshmallow. My mom lit the candles, everyone sang and I tried to blow them out. Emphasis on tried. You see, this year my parents though it would be comical to try out the new “re-lighting” candles. Just like a marshmallow held to close to a fire, my cake went up in smoke.

I’ll skip my teen years. They were filled with more awkwardness and introvert/extrovert conflicts then anything else. Let’s move on to college.

Jan. 1990 - Oh the college years. I was a well behave geeky freshman at first but then I decided to embrace the college life, with moderation. Unfortunately, moderation was not in my vocabulary on my birthday weekend when I turned 20. For some reason, I chose to become totally blotto, and I have to admit it was great. Then result though was some mild alcohol/blood poisoning. To shorten the story, I didn’t realize that had happened. It was really mild, but it resulted in a UTI and then kidney infection. All in all it took about 6 months to recover. I also had a severe alcohol sensitivity (or paranoia) for several years thereafter. My 21st birthday was much more mellow.

Jan.1995 - Long story short - my father passed away and I spent the day before my birthday at his funeral and my actual birthday driving from Indiana back to Minnesota via Illinois.

Jan. 2000 - Not too shabby. Had a pre-natal check up and scheduled an ultrasound. We got to see our first glimpse of peanut, now known as Bug. He was positioned like a frog, hands covering his boyhood so we didn’t officially find out his sex at the time. We were just happy to see that everything was going as planned.

And here we are back at Jan. 2005. I told Doug that when I turned 30, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Most people freak out about getting older but I really felt young. So what if I wasn’t in my 20s. Turning 35 was a whole other story. I feel as if I have aged dramatically. And I am just pooped. That was when he pointed out that in those 5 years we have had many changes, the 3 most important being our 3 beautiful children. I’ll take that as an acceptable reason for feeling old and tired. .

Life is a bizarre and twisted road that we all travel. Oddly enough, with all the weird crap that I’ve experienced, I truly don’t believe that there is one thing that I would change. It has all made me who I am today. And as I finish this post I realize that today is actually tomorrow, so good night, good morning , and good life.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


I'm still recovering from yesterday. Not so much due to my birthday but due to Blurg, the 9 month old being up all night, 8 times to be exact. I just love those upper respirtory and ear infections. But she is drugged and snot free enough to sleep and I hope she does.

Until tomorrow, live long and blog often.

Monday, January 10, 2005

More on Wonder Bug

This is some more insight on our boy Bug in response to a comment I recieved from Elizabeth. I realized my response was getting to wordy and would be better as its own blog. Anyway;

He has not been tested yet (IQ), but it is coming up very soon. As of yet, I have not been able to locate any schools for the highly gifted but I'm still looking. He has been very active in ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) programs in our community which has provided alot of the social/emotional interaction thus far. And through this we have seen some social "things" that are a little off. Some have improved over the last 2 years but after his mid-term teacher conference, his teacher and I decided to have him evaluated by an OT (Occupational Therepist).

Through my own research, I would guess that he falls under the category of Sensory Integration Disfunction, meaning he tends to "misinterpret everyday sensory information, such as touch, sound, and movement". In some situations he is overly sensitive which results in extreme tantrums, crying, etc. Other times he is under sensitive, so he seeks out the intensity, like bumping into other kids or yelling instead of talking. One time when he was yelling at Doug, Doug asked him to use his inside voice. Bug didn't, he just got louder. Out of frustration, Doug asked if he knew how to use an inside voice. Bug's response was, "No." We could tell by the look in his eyes he really didn't get it. And so began the research. I'll get the feed back from the OT this week.

We have thought about home schooling but I have some reservations. Essentially, Bug and I are too much alike and so we butt heads, A LOT. No matter which route we choose, he will receive a certain amount of home schooling. That is actually the term he uses when he can't go to school, either due to illness or holidays. "Can we homeschool today Mom? Please!" It is so cool having a child that wants to learn.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A note about Blurg

Since I have already talked about Bug and Boo I should at least mention Blurg. Poor little Blurg, she is so stuffed up today. Those sad puffy eyes are so pathetic. But she is a trouper. Unfortunately this looks like a virus so we just have to let it run its course. This part of parenting just sucks.

Thoughts on kindergarten

What do you do when you have a child that hasn’t entered kindergarten yet but is already smarter than you in certain areas? Bogus Dad and I are encountering this conundrum. Bug currently knows way more than I do in geography and more human anatomy than Doug. I tried to explain to Bug the other day that I really, REALLY am not that interested in geography. No, I don’t know all the names of the countries in Africa and I really don’t care to. His response, “That’s not sensible.” And so he began giving me geography lessons. He has been giving Doug similar lessons in anatomy. “See Dad, this is a picture of the lungs and inside are the alveoli”, etc. etc. etc. One thing that is funny about all this is that when he doesn’t know something, he makes it up, just like a typical 4 old year. And that confuses everyone else. I have to admit that I find humor in the fact he corrects his preschool teacher when she forgets a word or two during story time. Or when he makes comments like, “you bumped my scapula”.

Now our biggest concern is finding the right school for him. Being where we are there are several magnet and charter schools but they are either for older kids or would require a long bus ride. And I don’t think either he nor I are ready for that. He looks old and wise yet young and vulnerable. Man, am I being sappy or what. I can honestly say that the idea of him stepping out into the wide world of school scares me to now end. Kids can be cruel and unfortunately Bug would be a prime target. I know that I should embrace these upcoming events with a “we all went through it and survived” attitude, but I don’t want to. Why should a child’s education be a battle that they must survive? Right now my head is spinning and I have no idea where I’m going with this. So with that being said I should go check on the girls.

By the way, Bug just took a small break from the lite brite to discuss the role of the arteries, veins, and aorta in the circulatory system. That’s my boy.

Funny when it's not your kid

Over the last few years we have had many a funny moment, totally attributed to the quirky antics of our kids. Granted they weren’t so funny in the moment but in retrospect they were. Most of these moments of late have been delivered by Boo, our 2 year old. As I write, she is standing by a toy box attempted to sing America the Beautiful. Just a cute moment. Here is a list of some of her pearls of wisdom over the last few weeks.

1) After being told she had to stay in her seat at dinner until she ate at least one noodle, “I don’t like you Mommy, I don’t like this chair, and I really don’t like that noodle.”

2) At thanksgiving dinner when we were attempting to get her to sit at the table, she stood at the window with her arms crossed, stamped her foot and said, “I don’t like it. It taste gross.”

3) While trying to explain to Bug (4 2/3) about using good manners, Boo chimes in, “Mom, your being impossible.”

4) After explaining to Bug that he needed to take a bath I got to hear, “ Hey Mommy, you need a shower too. You a stinky.”

5)Are you a cranky girl today Mommy?

6)Boo, “Hi Mama, I’m Boots today.” My response, “ Hi Boots, how are you?” Boo, “I’m not Boots, I just tending”

7)Me, “Boo, don’t throw popcorn. Pick it up now.” pause “I said now” Boo’s response, “Ok, ok, ok geez.”

8)Bug starts a game of fetch. Boo runs after the ball, picks it up in her mouth and brings it back. Bug says, “Drop”, and she does. She also sits and rolls over. Of course she did this plus some panting at toddler group when the teacher said, crawl like a dog.

9)”What I do?” or “Come and see, come and see.”

10) Sawee, sawee, sawee,,,,I wuv you Mama..

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Is Dr. Ferber a genius?

For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Ferber is “the nation's best-known sleep specialist, and heads the Sleep Lab and the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital in Boston” ( I have heard a few good results from following his cry it out sleep method. I have heard more stories similar to the one posted by Army of Mom, Ok so I lied. Personally I have been through this with 2 children, with mixed success. And here is my story of woe.

Our oldest Bug, now 4 2/3 (as he likes to tell people) was the first to be Ferberized. He was about 14 months old and had just begun to wean. For the previous 14 months, he used me as his personal pacifier, nursing a minimum of every 2 hours, especially during the night. I needed sleep and thought this Ferber idea would work. Ummm WRONG!!!! There was no warning label. But there should have been something to the effect of: WARNING may result in projectile vomiting. Yes this was our case. Bug was and is the type of child that can get so worked up that he throws up. We now know that this he is a “spirited child”, just intense. We would tuck him into his crib (he was in a toddler bed but that doesn’t work well with ferberizing), kiss him goodnight, and leave. He would then scream, scream, scream, vomit, and scream. We would go, get him out of the crib, change the bedding and repeat. Usually after the third to fourth bed change, he would fall asleep standing up, leaning against the crib rail. This lasted for about 4 nights, then he learned to scream sitting/laying down. A few nights later, he started falling asleep, with minimal protest. And then a few weeks later, when out guard was down, it began again. After about 2 months, he slept and for the first time in a very long time I slept the whole night. Bug still has some sleep difficulties and has had to be re-ferbered with the birth of each sibling. He also has sleeping issues any time he goes through a cognitive development stage. Great thesis topic if you are in the market, “The effects of cognitive development on sleep patterns in children”.

Now, Boo was a different beast. She turned 2 back in August but was Ferbered just 1 year ago. She and Bug began bunking together in anticipation of Blurg being born. She went into a toddler bed in November and the ferbering began. She would scream and scream but there was no vomit. Hurray!! But, if she got too worked up, she would keep or wake up Bug which would result in 2 kids to get calm. Eventually, Bug learned to block out Boo, so she was on her own. She was so little that she couldn’t quite open the door, so as she cried we would see these tiny fingers poking out from underneath. Talk about pulling on the heart strings. Sometimes should would fall asleep at the door, so we would have to open the door just enough to get in and then transfer her to her bed. Sometimes she woke up and it started again. Sometimes it happened during the night. And then we changed the strategy. Boo really didn’t like being left and still doesn’t. So I started by sitting in a chair in their room. They fell asleep, I left. Then each night I would move the chair a little closer to the door until finally I was out of the room. I worked my way down the hall and voila mission accomplished. Granted sometimes I make a “Mommy bed” on the floor of their room so they think I’ve stayed there but now at least I don’t need to. Unfortunately, these two still have night when they play off of each other. Boo can no longer have naps or she won’t go to sleep at bedtime. She picks on Bug. Bug gets too worked up and then crashes. They fight, I get agitated, call in the relief parent and then eventually win the war. That is what happened tonight.

And then there is Blurg. She is almost 9 months and well has yet to be fully Ferbered. Her time is coming and we will see what happens. She has had some small tastes of the method and was not pleased. She will cry and tell me off until she falls asleep. Is it a bad omen that her first word besides Mama and Da is Ne (No)? She usually falls asleep within 20 minutes but continues to hiccup sob while sleeping.

So did Ferber work for us? Yes, eventually.
Will it work with all kids? Depends on the kid.
Does it work with all parents? Depends on the parent.
Would I try it again? Duh, hello, three kids and the only thing that has remotely worked. Like anything it just needs to be tweaked to fit the family dynamic.
Am I glad they are almost old enough that it won’t be an issue? Yes
Has it given me some fun memories that I will be able to tell the grand kids some day? You Betcha!

As a side note, I have 2 sister-in-laws that have gone in totally different directions. One has three kids 5,7,and 9 that each have their own room but also still sleep with their folks on occasion. They were co-sleepers as infants. Now there is enough space in their parents room they can camp out on the floor.

The other has two children, 3 and 1. They bunk together and she has treated it in a very mellow manner. They go to bed, she and her husband leave the room and that’s that. The kiddies can talk all they want, she leaves them to figure it out. So far it has worked well, but we will see what happens when their littlest moves out of the crib.

AoM, I empathize, sympathize and had a drink in your honor tonight. Good Luck!

Friday, January 07, 2005

On the Menu.....

Since I like to cook and talk about the creations I decided to create a special spot "On the menu" to write on this topic. The last two meals mentioned were Grilled Rosemary chicken kebobs served with prosciutto and caramelized onions and Frisee with goat cheese red potato salad, tarragon, chives, and prosciutto. So here it goes.

The rosemary honey chicken kebobs were a total off the cuff idea. We had chicken and a rosemary tree in need of pruning. If you have read my previous post you already know that I only approximate the measurements of the ingredients. Spending 10 years in the culinary world can do that to a person.

First, I trimmed 4 long thick rosemary sprigs and removed all except the top tuft of needles. These will be the skewers for the kebobs. I added about half of the removed needles to the marinade. The marinade contained about 1 cup honey and 2 tbs water, micro-waved for about one minute to warm and thin. While the marinade cooled, I cut the split chicken breasts (Cub frequently has them on sale) in half lengthwise. Then the chicken went into the marinade for about 3o minutes. After the marinade time was over, 2 pieces of chicken (one breast) was woven on the skewer. They were then cooked with a little safflower oil over a medium low heat until done. I served it with a piece of prosciutto, lightly fried in safflower oil and sliced caramelized red onion.

While the chicken was marinading, I prepped the salad. First put 2-3 b-size red potatoes on to boil. Cook until fork tender. Cool. Plate some frisee and top with some fresh chives and tarragon to taste. Also mix some chives and tarragon with approx. 4 oz of goat cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. If the cheese seems too dense add a little milk (skim works well) or a little oil(safflower or olive). Slice the potatoes in halves or quarters and place on top of the frisee. Add a dollop of goat cheese. Sprinkle with additional tarragon, chives, and chopped prosciutto (fresh or lightly fried). Drizzle with evoo(extra virgin olive oil) a balsamic vinegar. Salt and cracked pepper to taste. Salad substitutions: Watercress or arugula for frisee, Green onions for chives, and bacon (even Bacos) for the prosciutto.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Anchoress, Varifrank, and the Candy Bomber

Today while perusing the blogoshere, I came across an interesting article on the site, The Anchoress called Go read Varifrank. Right now. Go. Read. in reference to the article Today, I was "Unprofessional" the site Varifrank. I’m not going to go into any great detail. Just go read these articles. Thanks to both for letting me know of contributions of Gail Halvorson, also known as the “candy bomber’. And to Varifrank, good for you. Most people would have done the comfortable thing (walk away without saying a word) rather than doing something that is correct (even if viewed as unprofessional). Kudos!

Smoking bans and the like

Not a lot of time to blog so here it goes. While reading a couple of Craig Westover's articles on the smoking bans in Bloomington, I was reminded of a previous place of employment. Yes there was a smoking ban on the premises. But there were also individuals that were trying to get the company to ban perfumes and other potentially offensive odors. One individual wanted to ban particular food items such as broccoli and Parmesan cheese as well. Where does it stop?

Just so everyone knows, I’m a non-smoker with allergies and airborne sensitivity reactions to most things, i.e. I sneeze and sniffle a bunch. I realized a few years ago that I could choose to avoid everything and anything that may contribute to my allergies or I could choose to live my life. I weigh my options. Would I rather be socially and emotionally healthy while exposed to some smoke or be a physically healthy hermit. Quite honestly, it depends on the day. I rate my risk factors on a scale of 1 to 10 when I know that they exist. And in case the unexpected happens, I come prepared. There are these little things called allergy pills and tissues. Oooooh ahhhhh.

There is another area of smoking that is not addressed in this ban which is also of concern to restaurants. Fajitas, saganaki (Greek flaming cheese), flambes and any other dish served table side that expel smoke could become an area of complaint. And in fact it has. I experienced this complaint firsthand as a restaurant manager on 2 separate occasions. Once, it was the fajita smoke that was offensive to someone sitting in a non-smoking section. The other time it was because the smell of sizzling meat offended a vegetarian guest.

I guess I have two points. One, I really liked Craig’s article. It was well stated and encompassing of the fallout that can and will happen with the full smoking ban. And secondly, we all have choices to make. Even if you agree with the smoking ban, what will your reaction be when one of your “bad habits” is banned.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Culinary adventures thus far in 2005

As I mentioned in my first blog, I am very texture sensitive. What I did not mention is that I am also sight, smell, and taste sensitive as well. When Doug and I go out to eat I spend a good deal of the evening playing "guess the mystery ingredient" as different meals go by. And quite honestly, I've gotten really good at it. I can also "taste" by smell and "smell" by sight which sometimes allows me to create some interesting food concoctions. So on with the concoctions.

New Year's Eve: Mixed greens with balsamic shallot and strawberry vinaigrette (mine)
Fois Gras on a bed of watercress with raspberries cointreau and the afore mentioned vinaigrette (D's)

The salad was very simple, a variation of the house salad served at Bobinos restaurant in nordeast Minneapolis. (Just down the way from Keegans, Good stuff!! I combined equal amount of balsamic vinegar and safflower oil (approx. 1/4 cup) with one small shallot 3 fresh strawberries and about 2 tbs strawberry daiquiri mix. I blended them with a boat motor(i.e. hand blender) and presto change-o a scrummy vinaigrette. Tossed with some mixed greens, throw on some sliced strawberries and it's good to go. I think next time I might add some slivered almonds or sugared pecans. Another version is to top it with freshly grilled chicken.

The fois gras was lightly seasoned with coarse salt and cracked black pepper on one side and cooked over a low heat for about 1 minute. I then turned it over, seasoned it again and put in the oven at 200 F. I placed the watercress on a plate and drizzled it with some of the vinaigrette. Pulled the fois gras out of the oven just to transfer some of the drippings to another pan. I used these drippings with about a cap full of cointreau and a little brown sugar to toss the raspberries. The raspberries were placed around the watercress, the fois gras placed on topped and a little additional vinaigrette drizzled over the fois gras. (picture to follow)

Next post....Grilled Rosemary chicken kebobs served with prosciutto and caramelized onions
Frisee salad with goat cheese red potato salad, tarragon, chives, and prosciutto

First a word of thanks

Thanks to everyone who has welcomed me to the blogosphere. Also thanks for the reminder about Keegans. I set things up with the sitter, so I can officially be there.

Hopefully later this evening there will be a new post about our culinary adventures of this week end. Take a little bit of TiVO, a couple hours of Iron Chef, and 3 sleeping kids and suddenly I am inspired to create fun gourmet food. Anyway, I'll be back with the scrummy details later.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

And away we gooooooooo

Ok folks, here it is. My first official post to my first official blog on the first day of 2005.

Ok, so here I sit looking at the little blinky thing thinking to myself, "what am I going to write about?" and "what is that little blinky thing called again?". Ahhh the cursor, that's right. I have really been away from technology too long.


As I sit here watching my daughter eat cotton candy out of a bowl, I am reminded of childhood and how I always thought that cotton candy on a stick was a silly idea. I was the type of child that was very texture sensitive. So the idea of having my face buried in a sticky mixture of spun sugar on a stick was less than appealing. I even had nightmares about it. (No really, I was a weird kid. Picture Night of the Living Dead with all the zombies walking around with cotton candy faces and paper cone noses.) However, now as a parent, I understand. Cotton candy on a stick results in a sticky face, period. Cotton candy in a bowl results in a sticky face, hands, table, chairs, clothes and consequently a sticky mom. This all being said, I still don't like cotton candy stuck to my face but seeing it on my 2 year old ranks high on the cuteness factor. And a sticky face is worth it when it comes with kisses.