Monday, January 25, 2010

Lunch Recipe Share

Today for Arlo's lunch (and mine), I amended a basic "spaghetti" recipe that the Divine Miss E (head of nutrition program at Iowa City Montessori) makes for kids at her school. It just goes to show how easy it can be to make a reasonably healthy and quick lunch for your kid's lunchbox. Now, why can't our public schools be serving foods like this?

It goes something like this:

  • Pasta. I used rotini, E usually uses angel hair. You could easily slip in a whole-wheat variety here.
  • Sauce. Just a few spoonfuls, to keep it mild for Arlo's palate--also to obscure the fact that it has sauce on it, since Arlo's is convinced that he doesn't like sauce. (He does.) E's recipe (and mine) uses pesto.
  • Your kid's favorite veggie. I threw chopped carrots in with the pasta during the last 5 mins of boil time. E uses tomatoes--usually grape tomatoes, but maybe sometimes sliced Romas? (Arlo genuinely doesn't like tomatoes. Yet.) And don't forget to throw in a healthy handful of chopped, uncooked spinach right after you drain the pasta--the heat and moisture from the noodles is sufficient to cook it, and all of the nutrients stay in the meal.
  • Cheese. Feta and parmesan, in our case.

You can pack this along as a pasta salad (if your kid will eat it cold) or send it in a thermos, like we do. Just don't forget to include a fork!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fed Up: Be Very Afraid.

Parents of public-school children, please take a look at this new blog. Mrs. Q, a public-school teacher in Illinois, has pledged to eat school lunch with her students every day in 2010. She posts each day's meals on the blog.

You might be alarmed, and you'll probably be disgusted. You likely wouldn't want to eat most of this food yourself, especially if you're trying to make healthy, sensible choices in your diet.

I made additional comments in response to Mrs. Q's post yesterday. I'd re-post them here, but can't seem to get Blogger to play nice and let me copy and paste my comment, so just look for it on the post from Thursday, January 14.
No, Arlo doesn't eat school lunch. That decision is very strongly reinforced by the content on this blog so far.
What do you think we can do as parents to make the school-lunch program better? I know that packing a lunch for Arlo every day makes HIS diet better than that of his classmates--but what about those kids that have to eat school lunch every day? What can we do for them?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Looking for a square hole for our little square peg...

I want to express my sincere thanks to all of you for your support and input as we've been going through some uncertainty with Mae's situation at daycare.

We had a productive conversation with our childcare provider last night, and came up with some routine tweaks that might help lessen the issues that she is having with Mae's behavior (notice I did not say "Mae's behavior issues"), and we'll just have to wait and see how things go.

The main upshot at this point is that Mae will be staying where she is for the time being, and we are working together to improve the situation. We'll be monitoring things closely, asking detailed and frequent questions about her progress. And we'll belooking into what other options are available, where Mae might find a setting that better suits her as she develops.

I want to be clear that we still feel that our current care provider gives wonderful, loving, and expert care to the children--and we are not suggesting otherwise. She has cared for both of our children since birth (Arlo until he was 4-1/2), and has been a treasured and very important part of our family up until now (which, as an aside, is part of why it cuts deep that we feel she didn't communicate with us on a pretty basic level about what was going on with Mae). Anyway, it just seems like her way of doing things--with a distinct emphasis on keeping with a schedule and doing the same thing every day--though it is very effective and it worked for Arlo--might not be the best fit for Mae's personality as she grows.

We're open to leads and suggestions, whether they are for daycare openings in Iowa City or pointers for collaborating with your child's care provider/teacher/etc. It's not that we're looking for chaos--we just feel like Mae could use a little more flexibility, a little more room to be the independent little firebrand that you KNOW she's destined to be. (Ahem. See the tree from whence the nut came, right?)

Thanks for your love and support for all of us, especially Mae.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mama Bear and the Daycare

Our daycare provider has "issues" with my daughter's behavior that she thinks might warrant Mae's removal from the daycare. However, this is the first I've heard of any problem AND the behavior is not exhibited at home. What to do?

Our care provider tells me that Mae (2) "screams" all day and won't nap. She says that Mae keeps the other kids awake when they should be napping--by said screaming and jumping up and down in her port-a-crib. She also tells me that Mae has been aggressive with the other children (who are 1, 1-1/2, and 2-1/2) and "cannot be left alone with them without supervision" for any reason. Also? Apparently Mae doesn't eat very well.

All of these things have apparently been going on for a while, according to my phone conversation with the caregiver this morning--the napping problem "since she was an infant"--but honestly, I had no idea. Even though she fusses a little (okay, sometimes a LOT) about naptimes and bedtimes at home, she doesn't scream bloody murder or go on a rampage. And I've only seen her lay a hand on another kid when she's stroking a baby's hair, or doling out hugs and kisses to her friends.

When I pick up Mae from daycare, I often ask, "How was the day today?" or some other open-ended question to invite communication, and never have I heard any complaints. Mae always seems happy and relaxed when we pick her up, and she never resists going to daycare in the morning. So I was just completely blindsided by the phone call this morning, and I don't know how to respond.

We have been with the same child care provider since Arlo was eight weeks old, with both of them in her care together for some of that time. She lives across the street from us. She has always been wonderful with the children, and though our personalities are different, we've always given her the benefit of the doubt because she's just so good at her job, and she apparently adores the children. She even said that she has "been strong for so long" with regard to Mae's behavior because she loves Mae so much, and she recognizes our history with her and didn't want to cause any trouble. But then, practically in the same breath, she suggested that we "might want to consider a different day care situation" for her. (Me: stunned.)

I won't go into the details, but I believe that a lot of Mae's so-called behavior problems can be fixed, if we work together--and I am dismayed that we were not asked sooner to be a part of the solution. I am also feeling rejected and hurt on Mae's behalf, and defensive about someone finding fault with her, even though Mae (of course) had no inkling of the conversation we're having. Part of me wants to just pull her out of daycare and wrap her up in my arms and never let ANYONE say anything negative about her, EVER. (I am going to be in a world of hurt when Mae goes to junior high, I'm sure.)

But then, I acknowledge that Mae's not perfect and that if she is causing problems for the other kids, we need to address that. "If there was a problem, YO, I'll solve it." But why did our trusted caregiver have to allow the situation to reach a crisis level before bringing us into the equation?

Is my babysitter afraid of me? Are there underlying, non-Mae-related issues that are not out in the open? Am I in denial? Is my sweet, two-year-old daughter really just an insomniac tyrant in comfy, brightly-colored knit clothing? And not to be a drama queen, but just in case... Does anyone know of an awesome daycare provider with immediate-to-near-immediate openings?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Art of Marriage

A dear friend shared this with me earlier this summer, and today, as I reflect on the past eight years of my life with my wonderful husband, I wanted to "re-gift" it here because it's an important reminder that any true and good relationship must be created, nurtured, built over time.

Marriage is an art unto itself.

"The Art of Marriage" by Wilfred Arlan Peterson

The little things are the big things.

It is never being too old to hold hands.

It is remembering to say "I love you" at least once a day.

It is never going to sleep angry.

It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through all the years.

It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.

It is standing together facing the world.

It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.

It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.

It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have wings of an angel.

It is not looking for perfection in each other.

It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor.

It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.

It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.

It is finding room for the things of the spirit.

It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.

It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.

It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Scenes from the Eat-In

Board Member Jen Knights and daughter Mae
Originally uploaded by New Pioneer Food Co-op

Labor Day "Time For Lunch" Eat-In, hosted by our local chapter of Slow Food U.S.A., at City Park in Iowa City. The event--and hundreds like it across the country--was designed to focus attention on school lunches and to encourage people to call on Congress to make REAL FOOD the standard in public schools.


Originally uploaded by knights_writes