Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Baby Steps

As most of you know, I take my side job very seriously. (I say side job because I am a mom first -- always.) I believe strongly in what I do for the children of my city and my school district.

Every school. Every student. Every day.

Sometimes I feel like I am in a vicious cycle:

When I create a healthy menu full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain pastas, reduced fat cheeses, turkey-based meats, and skim milk, the parents are thrilled!

The kids HATE the healthy stuff.

When the kids hate it, they don't buy the lunch.

If they don't buy the lunch, I can't keep upgrading the menu and adding healthier choices.

If I can't keep providing the healthy choices, the parents get upset.

Sigh ...

Still, this is a battle I won't give up. Things aren't going to -- and can't -- change overnight.

I think of it as baby steps ... just like with my real job as a Mom. We are taking baby steps as we move towards a huge change in our world -- toddler beds. The boys are doing what is human nature and resisting the change.

But just as the boys aren't going to stay in their cribs without their crib tents the first couple of nights, I'm not going to be able to change school lunch overnight.

But just because the process is long and difficult doesn't mean I should -- or can -- give up.

It's. Just. That. Important.

The boys need to learn how to sleep in their beds at night.

The students need to learn that healthy food can taste good.

So I'm taking baby steps ... the crib tents are down and people are starting to notice the changes in our school lunches. Check out my rockin' article in the local paper today!
CPS listens, expands lunch options

But we aren't there yet.

For the boys, there is still learning to stay in their beds at bedtime and naptime. I'm using bribery. I bought Little Tikes Roadster toddler beds. Once they stay in their current beds, they get to move into a car bed,

It looks like Tanner might be getting a car bed this week. Hayden and Noel ... not so much.

For the school lunches, I'm on the right path. It seems like I've got the kids liking the healthy changes.

And oh boy, do I have big plans in mind for the future. Hummus made for a ridiculously low price using commodity walnuts ... herb gardens grown by the students at each schools to season the vegetables ... build your own burrito, pasta, rice bowl, and baked potato bars ... sliced cucumbers with yogurt dip.

I'm up for the challenge -- I can only hope I'm given the chance to make these changes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekend Update

This weekend was rainy and the boys were snotty -- NOT the best combination, but we made the best of it.

It was "Date Weekend", so Noel went to the CSO Lollipop Concert with Neena, Hayden went to the CSO concert with Daddy (separate cars and separate seats), and Mommy went to EnterTrainment Junction with Tanner.

Once we got home, things went down hill. Annie tried to comfort Tanner while Hayden was literally listless on the couch.

By Sunday, we had perked up enough to make valentine crafts, but not enough to go to church and risk exposing any other kids to our runny noses.

By the afternoon, we were having fun watching the "Baby Einstein triplets" and making "bridges".

We ended the night with the boys collapsing into bed -- which invoked a raspberry from Moochie.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Awwww ... SNAP!

Noel is in big boy underwear! Woo HOO!

He's been ready for awhile, but we've been lazy. Sounds bad, but it's true.

I honestly can't remember the last time Noel didn't poop in the potty. But diapers are easier ... and Noel was asking for them.

He said underwear hurt. So we taught him to snap the elastic.

Kinda like the "bend and snap" from one of my favorite movies Legally Blonde.

He loved it ... and we haven't looked back since.

What about Hayden and Tanner, you ask?

We're still working on that ... stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Week In Pictures ...

Of course now that I have retired the 365 blog, I've been taking a TON of pictures of the boys.

Sigh ...

So, here are some of the fun things we have been doing and trying this week!

Noel and Mommy have been baking cookies!

Hayden and Noel have been learning to slurp spaghetti noddles!

We went to the Newport Aquarium to see the divers!

We rode the carousel at the mall!

We went to Steak 'n Shake, and once again vowed to never return!

We played cars outside while waiting for Tanner to come off the school bus!

Friday, January 15, 2010


Oh ... Target 75% Toy Clearance Sale ... How I Love Thee!!!!!

Twice a year, January and July, Target clears out their store. Everything gets marked WAY down. I have both these bi-annual sales marked on my calendar. This week has been the big sale week in January.

I've scored some good deals on clothes and shoes for the boys for next year:
12 pairs of shoes for $41.00
9 polo shirts for $11.25
15 turtlenecks for $13.50
6 pairs of sweatpants for $5.75
9 sweaters for $34.25
3 winter jackets for $15.75

But, today, TODAY was the big toy sale markdown. I am now done for birthday and Christmas this year for the boys. Plus, I picked up a bunch of great toys to use as gifts for our friend's children and for birthday parties the boys will be going to throughout this year.

How well did I do? Check it out ...

My total bill for all you see? $248.39

The regular price for everything I got? $1176.98

Being done with Christmas and birthdays for the year? Priceless.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tanner's First Day of Preschool ... Kinda

When the boys turned three this past month, we "graduated" from Help Me Grow services. Help Me Grow is a county based program here in Ohio that provides free early intervention services including occupation therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy at no charge to children 0-3 years old who meet certain guidelines. The boys being 29 week old preemies automatically qualified them for services.

So for three years, we had weekly visits to help the boys meet all the expected milestones. They were wonderful and without them, the boys would definitely not be where they are today.

Right before their third birthday, our local school district came to evaluate the boys to see if they qualified for free preschool under an IEP. An IEP is an Individual Education Plan developed to help any student that might have a disability that interferes with their ability to learn.

The preschool would be at our local school; there are twelve children in each class, four are "typicals" and eight are "IEP based". Students are eligible to ride the bus to school each day as well.

When the school evaluated the boys, they immediately dismissed Hayden as eligible. However, they carried through Noel and Tanner to something called the arena. This is where they would bring the boys into the preschool class one day and evaluate them.

After the arena, Noel was determined not to qualify. This was great news -- my littlest one who is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy didn't have anything that limited his ability to learn.

However, Tanner did qualify as the school team was worried that some of his behaviors may interfere with his ability to learn. To be exact, they told me either he was brilliant and needed more stimulation, or he needs help learning how to take cues and participate in a learning environment.

Tanner has always been a little quirky in the way he communicates. We had an appointment at Cincinnati Children's Hospital to have him evaluated for behavioral problems, even autism, but the jury is still out on that. After our initial appointment, the doctor stated that some things Tanner does is textbook autism, but other things he does are not ever seen in children with autism. So, we are going through a battery of tests over the next several months, and will hopefully get a final word from the doctors in September.

In the meantime, Tanner will go to preschool at our local public school three days a week. He will also get to ride the bus there and back each day -- something he LOVES.

All three boys attend preschool one day a week at our church's preschool. It is a wonderful program and the boys love their weekly Thursday class. Both Dan and I thought it was very important to have Tanner still go with his brothers to church preschool once a week.

Next year, Tanner will go to our local public preschool four days a week, while Hayden and Noel continue to go to our church preschool three days a week. I will put Hayden and Noel in different classes, so every boy will have their own class, make their own friends, and gain their own independence.

The year after (the year before they start kindergarten), the principal of our local public school would like to have all three boys attending preschool there four days a week. Hayden and Noel would be considered "typical" students. This would be perfect since then Hayden and Noel could ride the bus with Tanner each day, too.

Now, what you have been waiting for -- the pictures of Tanner heading off to preschool all by himself! He was such a brave, big boy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Day!

Okay, okay ... I know I complained about the snow yesterday, but I'm actually really glad Mother Nature sent us the "White Death" yesterday.

My district let non-essential workers go around 10:00am when the snow started to fall. My drive home was completely uneventful as the roads were fine. Here is a picture from our front porch -- this is what closed schools down. (snicker)

BUT ... because everyone freaked out about the snow, I got to spend the day with my boys! Sure, I worked during their nap, but before and after that ...

We got to eat a fun breakfast.

We had fun painting velvet horses with water using paint brushes.

We fished for gold fish crackers.

We baked pumpkin bread.

We went sledding outside in the snow.

Maybe it's not so bad living in an area where people don't know how to plow or drive.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Sky is Falling!

Breaking news ... We are about to be buried under 3-6 inches of snow! Everyone run for the hills!!

(dramatic pause for effect)

Yes, you read right. A measly 3-6 inches of snow and our entire region is freaking out. All of my friends from Chicago and family in Pennsylvania and Utah are laughing hysterically right now.

Schools are closed here today. They actually started to announce closures at 5pm yesterday.

The grocery stores are out of eggs, milk, and bread due to the mad rush of people last night. I guess everyone makes French Toast when it snows?

The punchline? There is no snow yet.

They are expecting it to start around 10am and go through the day, but right now, there is not a flake to be found.

Personally, I think it is a little ridiculous coming from Chicago where I had one snow day my whole four years of high school -- and that was actually for an ice storm. I can remember walking the 1/2 mile trek up the hill to the bus stop in at least 8 inches of snow one morning.

But here in Cincinnati, everything shuts down on the very threat of a snow flake.

In a way, I get it. Chicago is flat (think corn fields as far as the eye can see), and Cincinnati has hills that put San Francisco to shame. I know I wouldn't want my kids on a bus going down a rural back road that has a 30% incline hill.

However, I maintain that the main difference is two things:
(1) Cincinnati doesn't know how to plow roads properly
(2) Cincinnati drivers don't know how to drive properly (snow or no snow, but I digress)

Plowing here is a joke. I always chuckle when I see the Cincinnati plows making their first pass down an unplowed road throwing salt ... then on the next pass they plow all the salt right into the ditch. Talk about a waste of city's money and time!

Instead of sending plows in all different directions, they need to put three plows following each other and doing the entire road in one swipe. They way they are doing it, one plow makes a single pass down the road, but by the time that plow makes a loop and gets back to that same place, people have run over the snow that it has moved and thrown the snow back onto what it just plowed!

I will cut the drivers a little slack here. Even the best snow, most experienced drivers have problems on the horribly plowed roads of Cincinnati.

However, the fact that most Cincinnati drivers don't have basic driving skills makes snow driving so much more difficult. If anyone here just used a turn signal, knew how to properly merge onto a highway, didn't tailgate, knew that a yellow light means begin to slow down, and respected the high speed passing lane rules, things would be better on the roads.

However, I blame most of their horrible snow driving skills on their parents. Not one kid I went to school with in Chicago didn't have a parent take them to a snow filled parking lot and made them purposely spin out in the snow. Either you learned how to control your car in the snow -- break properly, recover from a slide, etc -- or you didn't get to drive when it snowed.

So, given the roads and the drivers, I really don't blame the schools for closing down or for everyone stocking up for French Toast right before a big snow storm.

When the snow starts falling, I'm going to pack up my things and head home to bunker down with the rest of Cincinnati.