Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year, Cupcake!

It's 2014.  This could be a huge year for my cupcake, or it could not.  This year she turns 5. She may or may not start Kindergarten. She will probably take her first communion.  And, she will begin to explore new activities beyond dance class:  soccer, gymnastics, and piano are all options.   Whatever happens though, I find that my hopes and prayers for her are the same.

 I pray that
   she makes new friends.

   she grows in her faith

   she continues to explore the world around her

   she continues to love freely
   she knows she is loved exactly the way she is
   she is confident in herself
   she doesn't give up because something is boring or because it is
   she is healthy

Most of all, I pray that she is happy- not surface happy because she has lots of toys, clothes, books, etc.- but deep down happy because she has a  village of people supporting her.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Transitional Kindergarten? To TK or not to TK?

Making educational decisions for my daughter is tough stuff.  It wouldn't be so difficult if her birthday wasn't in September.  But, it is.  And, the date for enrollment changes next year to September 1.  She will be 5 about a month after the cut off date for Kindergarten, which means they will enroll her in Transitional K.  The next year she will start K.  It boils down to public preschool for kids who turn 5 during the school year.  At least, that is how it has been portrayed.

So what if she has public preschool? What makes this difficult?  My munchkin didn't go to preschool, and everybody talks about how important it is.  What they don't get is that kids can acquire preschool skills at a really great day care.  My daughter is socialized, can write her name, identify shapes, letters and numbers, cut, paste, and perform most of the other tasks required for K.  I am greatly concerned she will not be challenged.  If she isn't challenged, she's bored.  Boredom leads to behavioral issues- even in young children.  Beyond that, who wants to be told that their child has to complete two years of Kindergarten because they're a month too young to have just one year.

What's a mom who's a teacher to do?  E-mail the principal of course.  I laid it out there for her.  How are the two years different?  What will you do to challenge my daughter who has acquired the skills?  Is it plausible that she could skip regular K if she is highly successful in TK? Then, depending on the answers, we apply for the school, or we wait an additional year and just start her in regular K.  It's frustrating though because we know our daughter is ready, but will be denied based on being 1 month too young.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Playground bully

We were at the mall playground last night, and I had the biggest shock of my life.  Because p

arenting is so hard, I don't often criticize other parents; however, today I am.

My daughter was playing with a boy a little older than her.  They were chasing each other and climbing just as expected.  They stop running for a minute and the boy who she's playing with suddenly turns and hits her in the neck- apparently on purpose.  She's fine.  Just as she recovers the boy turns and shoves her over.  It wasn't a gentle shove either.  I wish it were.

So, I comfort my daughter and scold the boy.  I ask where his parent is.  He doesn't identify her.  Apparently, she isn't there.  Another mom comes over to tell me that I'm overreacting.  I shouldn't bring my daughter to a public playground unless I expect that she is going to be hit and pushed over.  This is normal and perfectly acceptable.  I beg to differ and tell her that it isn't okay.

The little boy walks away and then comes back to tell me that I'm mean.  I respond that I'm not and that it isn't okay for him to hit and push other kids.

The first mom leaves, and REAL mom returns.  She apologizes profusely, tells me he has ADHD and is on medication, tells me she's trying, and then proceeds to start crying.  Yes, she started crying because I had a problem with something her kid did.  WOW!  I wasn't even being that harsh.  I thanked her for the apology, and told her that I understood it was hard.  I also noted that she had 3 children age 5 and under and looked like she was barely in her mid 20's.  She is clearly overwhelmed by whatever is happening in her life.

As I left the play area I realized something.   I felt so much worse for the boy because his mom used the fact that he has ADHD as an excuse for him.  She didn't scold him.  She didn't even attempt to give him a time out.  There was literally no consequence for his behavior.

Today, I realize I feel just as bad for the kids whose mom told me that it was to be expected.  Should I really expect that my daughter is going to be hit and pushed when she goes to a public playground?  Are you teaching your children that it's okay?  Wow.  I'd like to see what happens when they go to elementary school.

Parents, don't make excuses for your children!  Don't teach your kids that it's okay to hit other kids!  Be parents and teach them what is and isn't right.

Lesson for my daughter?  If other children are not going to play nice, you do not have to play with them.  You can play with the others.  You don't have to play with the kid who's going to hit you.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Birthday parties

When I was little, my parents didn't have birthday parties for us.  Don't get me wrong, they tried to make the day special, but there was never anything really FANTASTIC that screamed, "We're celebrating!"  There was dinner, cake, ice cream, and a present.  The first thing I can remember that remotely resembled a party didn't happen until I was 13, and even then all the guests were family and not my friends.

I always wanted the kind of party where you invite all your friends.  That's why my daughter has had a pretty big party each of her three years.   It's easy to throw her a party because everybody loves her.  And, she generally loves everybody right back.  We've done cupcake themed at a friend's house, princesses at a pizza place, and rainbow theme at a park.

This year, it's Doc McStuffins at home.

What are we planning?  Check-ups of course.  Tiny Beanie Baby patients and dollar store doctor kits.  Flower headbands like the one Doc wears will be available for all the girls in addition to the fun and games too.  "Put-the-Band-aid on the Boo-Boo" and Doc McStuffins Hopscotch will help keep them entertained.

I'm as excited as she is even though it's still a month and a half away.  Far fewer invitations will go out this year, but there will be plenty of fun to be had with the friends who have already said they plan on coming.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Pilgrim

Several years ago on my trip to Ireland, I saw this statue.  He spoke to me.  He spoke to me so much that I had him painted in the wall in my study.  Again today, I find that this pilgrim at Clonmacnoise Monastery speaks to me.  

Life is often overwhelming.  There is a lot on my plate.  I am often tired and stressed out.  I miss spending time with my family: my brothers, niece and nephew, husband and daughter.  I even feel like burying my face in my hands and weeping sometimes.

At the same time, I know that life is a journey.  That journey sometimes throws many different things at us that we must juggle and cope with.  Yes, I am often tired, but there is nothing on my plate that I would let go of.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Welcome back Holly!

Holly, our Elf on the Shelf has rejoined us.  Rather than have her just show up on the shelf one day, I thought it would be nice to do something special to "entice" her to come join us for the holidays.  This is Holly's second year with us, and last year was dull.  She often sat in the same place days in a row without moving.  She certainly didn't look like she had fun.

Taking some inspiration from Pinterest, I decided it was time to have a little fun with Holly.  Needless to say, my daughter was all for it, especially when she found out what I had in mind.

If you eat Elf popcorn, drink chocolate milk, and watch "Elf on the Shelf" your elf will come back from the North Pole.  You have to make sure you save some popcorn for your elf though.  We put it in a paper bag and wrote Holly's name on the bag.  (You can see it beside Holly on the left side of the picture.  The white with blue snowflake cup was for Holly's milk.)

It was about time to watch the "Elf on the Shelf" movie and remind my daughter of the rules.  What's the best thing to eat while you watch a movie?  Popcorn.  Oh, but we should eat the same kind of popcorn that the elves eat since we're watching a movie about elves.  We should eat   ELF POPCORN!

What is Elf popcorn?  How do you make it?


1 bag of Kettle Corn- popped
1/2 bag green melting candy
1/2 bag red melting candy

2 crushed candy canes
Green Sprinkles
Red Sprinkles

Instructions:  Spread the popcorn in a baking dish.  Melt first color of candy and drizzle over popcorn.  Sprinkle crushed candy canes over melted candy.  Add sprinkles of each color.  Melt second color of candy and drizzle over popcorn. I found it easiest to drizzle the melted candy by using a rubber spatula and scooping just a little at a time.  If it does fall off in clumps, just mix it in to coat the popcorn.

Enjoy with a glass of chocolate milk!

Hubby bought pink sprinkles instead of red sprinkles so we just used those instead.  Holly is a girl elf and pink is her faovrite color so it's ok to use pink. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thanksgiving: Need new traditions!

There are a good number of reasons we aren't sharing Thanksgiving with our extended family this year.  My hubby has his reasons for not wanting to go to certain houses.  I have reasons for not wanting to go to certain houses.  We don't want to choose between family members.  We don't want to deal with family drama.  We don't want it to be too stressful.  In all cases, it really comes down to the fact that we just aren't up to it this year.  

So, what's a woman with a three-year-old to do?  It's simple really; we must start our own traditions.

1.  Food must be involved.  Yes, I am a Gastric Bypass patient; therefore, I cannot eat a feast.  No, the whole day must not revolve around  food.  Yes, I will cook.  No, I will not cook the entire meal.  Some of it will be ordered from a favored restaurant.

2.  Elf on the shelf video must be watched.  As the Christmas season seams to be fast approaching, I have reminded S- that Santa sent Holly to keep an eye out last year, and that she will probably be back this year. (It's hard to miss the Christmas lights that have been displayed in Target for the last month, and my daughter has already started talking about Christmas.) 

3.  Holiday decorations should be pulled out and sorted through.  This year, though, we will be replacing our outdoor lights and decorations as they are several years old and starting to become dilapidated.  New lights have been purchased.  A decision must be made regarding lawn ornaments for our porch still.

4.  Holiday crafts should be included.  My munchkin likes crafts.  There's no denying it.  At some point during that day/week-end crafting presents for family and friends will occur.  I really think I like the ornaments on the right.  There will be more, but I really like these in particular.

5.  Purging/Donating:  It's important to me that my daughter knows she does not need to have a ton of things.  I want her to learn that there are people who do not have all of the things we have and that she should do her part to help them.   As part of Thanksgiving week-end, I want her to go through her toys and identify the ones that she simply does not/will not play with so that she can donate them to the Good-Will or Rescue Mission.  We will do the same thing with our clothing.

6.  Thankfuls tablecloth:  We can't celebrate Thanksgiving without taking time to think about all the things that we are thankful for.  As part of the meal, we will trace our hands on a tablecloth with a Sharpie and write 1 thing we are thankful for in the middle of that tablecloth.

There have been three deaths in my family in the last three years, and the holidays just seem to be weird now.  So many traditions have been thrown off kilter because of it.  This year, I want to ground and recenter myself.  This is a year to figure out what it's most important for me to teach my daughter and establish traditions that help her learn those lessons.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wordle for Cupcake's Mama

So if, you follow the link it will take you to something 
called a Wordle. Wordle takes the text that you input and 
finds the key words.  Then it makes the most common word 
the biggest so that you can find key ideas and themes. 
Clearly I am most worried about time and weight.
 Wordle: From Cupcake's Mama

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Fun #1: 5 fun things I did with my daughter

My new summer philosophy?  Keep it simple and let her help.

The best day we had was Tuesday this week.  When my daughter woke from her afternoon nap, we had a smoothie and watched one episode of Yo Gabba Gabba.  [My daughter is terrified of the blender, so I gave her Super Ted- a teddy bear in a Super Man costume who protects her from anything that is loud.]  I whirled up a healthy snack, let her watch one episode of her beloved Gabba, and then I turned off the television.

1.  Paint a picture, or two, or three.  I picked up some simple Crayola paint, a pad of paper, and some cheap paintbrushes at Target.  I laid out the newspaper on our front porch, squirted a little of each color into the cupcake pan, and let her have a go at it.  (Let the paintings dry outside in the sun while you move onto activity number 2.

2. Good old fashioned outdoor play:
            a.  1 soccer ball:  Kick the ball, bounce the ball, roll the ball, throw the ball.  Whatever she wants to do with the ball.
             b.  2 jump ropes:  They have jump ropes and bigger kids at my daughter's day care.  She has been asking for one for the last couple months so I got her one.  Okay, she's 2 and she certainly isn't coordinated enough to actually jump rope.  But, she sees Mama jumping rope and know that you move your arms and jump.  So, she moves her arms wildly, jumps, and looks totally adorable as she tries to do it.  It cracks me up.  Then she starts cracking up.

Wednesday was a little more rough.  She came home from day care wound up because they got to play in the water.  She completely skipped her afternoon nap and drove me crazy for a couple hours before I decided we needed out of the house.

3.  Have a coffee date.  Okay, she doesn't drink coffee.  But, I do.  When it's warm a Frappucino feels good.  She gets to order the Vanilla drink that doesn't actually have any coffee in it. We get drinks and a snack.  Then we sit down and talk (usually about whatever exciting thing happened at day care or the bus that stops across the street from the nearest Starbucks.)

4.  Window shop:  This serves a dual purpose really.  She walked around and killed some energy.  I dragged her into stores I had never been in or hadn't been in for a while and got some errands done.  (Let's see what's in here!)  We found Leotard's/Tutu's in one store.  I let her sit in all the chairs in another store.  We found mango flavored marshamallows and candy in another store.  We looked to see how much pink bed sheets cost in a third store.  Okay, so I got to run a couple errands- like looking for new sheets.  I made my errands into an adventure for her.

5.  Glow bath.  There are a lot of creative ways to do glow baths that take forethought and preparation (ie making the special purchase of tonic water and blacklights.)  Instead, I simply dropped a few glow sticks in the bubble bath and turned out the lights.  (We did leave the light on in the hallway so she wouldn't freak out too much.)  She loved it.

Note:  The only picture I can take credit for above is the one with the paintings.  The other two represent the ideas, but are not mine.

Summer Fun- not so much

Summer FunIt's summer.  I have two glorious months to catch up on the cleaning, chores, projects, etc. that have been waiting the ten months of the school year to get done.  I have two months to play with my daughter, go to the gym, get my diet back on track, and relax.

I spent the first week of that two months not cleaning.  I applied for college and played on the Internet for the morning.  Then I stressed in the afternoon over what to do with my two-year-old for the afternoon.  (She napped and then we watched television.)

When week two rolled around, I realized I wasn't really happy with how big of a mess my house was so I decided I would try to clean while she watched a movie.

Really unhappy with the concept of using the television as a babysitter, I decided it was time to change my strategy for the summer. Yes, I am going to go to the gym and try to keep my diet on track.  Yes, I am going to catch up on chores, but I am NOT GOING TO LET THE TELEVISION BABYSIT MY DAUGHTER.

It's going to be a good old fashioned summer fun kind of summer that includes cleaning as we go.

So how am I going to do this?  Stay tuned for posts about the new and improved summer plan that includes way more fun!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Upon turning 32- Life is good.

I can't remember what I wanted my life to be like when I was a kid, but I don't really have any complaints at this point.

The last few years have been rough, but God is good.  And, I think that the last few years had to happen for me to get to a place where I was willing to teach Junior High School.  I seem to have found a really good fit at Fremont.  I have a job that I truly love.

I have the most beautiful daughter on the planet.  I could not ask for more in a daughter.  She is so happy, silly, and just like me.  She is a true blessing in my life.

My hubby is beyond wonderful.  I can't even begin to express how much I love him.  And, as we faced so many challenges over the last few years, my love for him has grown.

For the first time in my adult life, I am healthy.  I am not at risk for Diabetes or heart disease or any other life threatening illnesses.

Certainly things are crazy.  I am part of a Preschool Board and I am on our Neighborhood Council, I am working full time, and I am mama and wifey.  But, I have so many friends and family who support me so that I can go back to school.  Despite all that crazy, I am happy.  Really and truly happy.

And, I firmly believe my mama is an Angel in Heaven watching down on my family and smiling. 

Life is good.  God is good.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hello, my name is jennifer and I am a Gastric Bypass Patient.

From the start, I have been very open about my surgery.  I would tell people, "I am going to have Gastric Bypass."  Now I say, "I am a Gastric Bypass patient."  Reactions are always mixed.  Some people are immediately open.  Others are immediately judgmental and negative.  In either case, my response is always the same.  I give them a laundry list of things that have improved in my life.

Things that are different since my Gastric Bypass

1. I don't have Diabetes

               2. I don't have  High Blood Pressure

3.  I don't have  Sleep Apnea

               4.  I don't have Iron Deficiency

5.  I don't have knee pain.

               6.  I don't have Plantar Fasciitis anymore.

7.  I don't have PCOS symptoms.

              8.  I can keep up with  my daughter.

9. I have energy to exercise at the end of the workday.

             10.  Shopping for clothes is actually fun and EASY now. 

11.  I can shop pretty  much anywhere I want.

              12.  My sex life.  :)

13.  Men hit on me all the time.  (Hello self-esteem boost.)

              14.  I am no longer morbidly obese.  I am only slightly overweight.

15.  My health care costs have plummeted.

Judge me for my surgery if you want, but you have no idea what my quality of life was before I had Gastric Bypass especially if you didn't know me.  The whole purpose of surgery is to save lives and make people healthier.  This surgery has saved my life already by eliminating my risk factors for heart disease and other medical conditions related to obesity.  There is also research to show that Gastric Bypass eliminates Insulin Dependent Diabetes within 24 hours of surgery.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Next Pending Baby Romero

Baby Jess will be coming later this year.

Okay, so this is a teaser for those who are anxiously awaiting the announcement of the next pending Baby Romero.  There isn't another tiny Baby Romero on the way.  And, to be honest, I am sick of all of you asking when he will get here.  There is no requirement to have multiple children.  There is no law against having only one child.

Why, you ask?  Not that I need to justify myself to you, but I'll humor you to get you off my back.  The laundry list of reasons is below.

1.  It's my body.  If I don't want to get pregnant and have another child, I don't have to. The government even tells us so.

2.  My back already hurts.  You think I want a 6 pound martian jumping on my Sciatic nerve making it hurt more?

3.  Money doesn't grow on trees. Seriously.  Do you know how much diapers, baby food, etc. costs?  For the amount that it costs to feed and cloth a baby for a couple months, I can spend a week on vacation somewhere like San Franciso.

4.  I like reading.  And, I don't mean I like reading "Pinkalicious" and "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake."  I like to read real books- which there is already barely enough time for given my job and my daughter.

5.  I dream of being Dr. Romero.  It takes hours and hours of time every week for several years to earn a Doctorate degree (which might actually make that money I need for baby number 2 grow on a tree.)  I don't want to wait until I'm 55 and ready to retire to be Dr. Romero.  That does me no good.

So, is there a chance that Sapphira will ever have a sibling?  Maybe.  Sometime in the future we may consider adopting a child.  However, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it if I were you.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Myth: Teachers are evil miscreants...

I am sitting to write this blog because I had this conversation twice in two days this week: once with my husband and once with a colleague.  I have to admit I have had this conversation way more times than that though.  It has come up AT LEAST on a monthly basis over the last couple years.  It's worse in some areas than others, but it's pretty bad wherever you go.

When you turn on the news you here,
   1.  It's impossible to get rid of a tenured teacher.
   2.  Teachers earn too much money, and shouldn't be given benefits.
   3.  They don't pay for their retirement, it's given to them.
   4.  They work from 8-3 and have the whole summer off (in addition to winter and spring breaks)

I am here to tell you otherwise!  Yes, I get a decent pay check.  But, you know what that pay check covers after taxes? It pays my mortgage, my car payment, and my student loans.  My benefits are not better than they were when I worked security for a major corporation.  (Actually, they're worse.  My life insurance is minimal, and I can't even get a PPO.  I have an HMO and getting approval for anything is ridiculous.) In regards to my retirement, it's no different than anybody else's.  It's very similar to a 401K.  It;s just operated by the government.  I pay into a fund.  My employer pays a portion also.  Then it gets invested.

I am not an overpaid evil miscreant who doesn't earn her salary.  I go to work at 7:30 AM every day.  I teach all day long.  I have students in my classroom on my lunch break.  Then I get one hour a day to complete all other teacher tasks: grade every assignment, meet with administrators/parents/other teachers, call parents, fill out paperwork, plan my lessons and make copies, grade papers, order supplies/materials for my classroom, and whatever other task my administrator deems necessary.  Oh, on top of that we have staff meetings AFTER school once a week that run until 4 PM.  I do not usually leave school until after 4 PM.  And, that 4 PM time often consists of taking papers home with me to finish grading.

As far as getting rid of a tenured teacher:  It's not impossible.  Certainly, it's difficult and it takes time.  However it's not impossible.  There are simply steps that have to be followed.  Given a diligent administrator any teacher can be gone within a school year or two depending in the offense.  And, to be honest, I think this is justified.  I spend the first two years of teaching at a school site on probation.  Probation means I can be fired for any reason at all and they don't have to justify it for me.  I don't know any company or other government organization that keeps contracted employees on probation for two years.  (If this were "AT WILL" employment, that would be entirely different."

Here's what it comes down to.  I am not evil or bad or lazy for being a teacher.  I am a hardworking person who puts in way more time than people realize.  There are way too many myths and lies out there about my profession.  Without a doubt, there are bad teachers.  There are bad everything.  But, I am sick of being punished and made to feel like I'm horrible when I work my tale off teaching middle school kids who read like they're 3rd graders.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Confessions of a Wimpy Woman

There are days where I feel like Rosie the Riveter.  I can go to work, take care of my two-year-old daughter, make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and still have time and energy to write at the end of the day.  I am strong.  At least, I was strong.

I went to the gym a few days ago- Saturday evening actually.  Instead of feeling like Rosie, I felt like something entirely different...

Suddenly, I was that kid who signs up for weight training in the 10th grade because I'm sick of being the scrawny, wimpy kid.  I'm sitting on the equipment getting ready to bench press.  And, all I can think is that it's been 3 months since my car accident; therefore, it's been 3 months since I even looked at this equipment let alone used it.  Anyhow, I'm getting ready to bench press.  Get ready for it.   12 pounds.  That's right.  12 pounds.  I can do 2 sets of 15 at that weight. 
Ok.  I'll admit it.  I've never had much upper body strength.  I was always the girl in PE that could never do a pull up when it came time for the President's Fitness Challenge.  But, 12 pounds is ridiculous.  My 2.5 month old nephew weighs that much.
I know all eyes around me are looking at the lame number of pounds I'm lifting, and they're thinking how lame I am.

Ok.  Maybe they aren't really looking at me.  And, even if they did who cares.  At least I'm trying.  There are so many people who don't even bother to try.  Also, it's not even my fault.  I got rear-ended.  I hurt my back.  Let them laugh at my wimpyness behind my injured back.