So far, so good

We’re almost through our 4th week of school and things are going pretty well!  Colin has had ALL GREEN DAYS.  Amazing.  (Hope I’m not jinxing myself!)  Robbie’s had a couple of yellow days and so has Ryan, but no major issues at all.  And, ho-hum, Robbie got 103 on his first two spelling tests. 

103!  He’s gotten all of the regular weekly words plus the 3 bonus words each time.  Crazy kid!

Colin and Ryan are both reading very well these days, though Colin has trouble reading books due to the ADHD – he gets bored after a few pages and is ready to move on.  I’m just glad his skill has increased.  Baby steps!  

We had family come visit last weekend – Mom, sister, brother, sis-in-law, and our four-legged nieces, Bella & Abby (brother’s dogs).  My brother and sister also invited over an old friend of theirs from high school that was in town.  That brought the total to 7 adults, 3 kids and 4 dogs. I don’t think our house has ever been so full!  But we had a great time – the weather was gorgeous and we had tons of food to eat.  I made kabobs and fruit salad, my mom showed up with some bbq and sides from a place near her.  I’d just picked up my bountiful baskets order (usual basket plus 8lbs of strawberries!), so the kids were constantly begging for apples, strawberries, etc.  Good problem to have!

As the day was winding down and people were helping me clean up, my sister-in-law remarked, “The boys have been really good today.  I mean REALLY good. I’m impressed!”

Usually a change in routine turns into temporary insanity for all three of them – not just Colin!  This past weekend was different.  I don’t know if it was because we were calmer…or because they knew (almost) everyone there…or if it’s just them maturing and growing up a little bit, but we had a great time. 

It’s difficult to notice little changes on a daily basis, but when someone points it out to me, I step back and realize how far our kids have come. 

Four weeks in and not a single red day at school.  That’s pretty awesome. 🙂

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Recipe: Lasagna Eggrolls

Recently, Robbie decided that he only likes tomato sauce if it’s on a pizza.  Otherwise, he wants nothing to do with it.  I’ve yet to get a good reason from him for this aversion, but since he’s not a terribly picky eater otherwise, I’ve tried to roll with it.

Lasagna is a favorite at our house.  Well, for everyone but Robbie.  Colin can put down more lasagna than any 8 year old I’ve met – I think it’s one of his favorite foods, though he’d never list it himself.

Last Friday when I was at the grocery store, I saw ricotta was on sale, so I decided lasagna was imminent!  Then – on my drive home – I remembered Robbie’s little tomato sauce issue.

And then something weird popped into my head – lasagna eggrolls.  Why not?  It’s finger food, which kids love, and the sauce can be optional.

It was quite a hit. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground beef, cooked with italian seasoning to taste, then cooled
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 2tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp oregano
  • approx 4oz mozzarella, cut into strips (approx 2″ long)
  • 1 package eggroll wrappers
  • olive oil – for misting or brushing the rolls
  • 2 cups spaghetti sauce – pick your favorite!

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or oil it well) and pre-heat your oven to 400F.

Mix ricotta, egg, garlic and oregano until blended.

On a clean, DRY surface, lay out an eggroll wrapper.  Spread with about 1tbsp of ricotta mix.  Top with roughly the same amount of ground beef, then one strip of mozzarella.

Now… admittedly, the package said to roll them up a different way.  I tried both methods (making the envelope described on the back and making the rolls the way I show below) – I liked mine better!

Brush the top of the eggroll wrapper with a little water (I just dipped my finger and swiped it on).  Fold up the bottom, fold in the sides…then roll up to the top. The water will seal the wrapper to itself.  Be careful not to over fill your rolls – you don’t want that yumminess leaking out!

Place the rolls on your parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Brush them with oil (or mist them with your Misto – that’s what I did) and bake them for 10-12 minutes, until golden.

Let cool 5-10 minutes (especially if serving to the kiddos!).  Serve with sauce on the side – hot or cold!  Makes enough for 8-10 kids or 5-7 adults!

Everything’s better with bacon!

Eye on "One"derland

This past Saturday, I was out and about with my mom.  It had been a while since we’d gotten time for just the two of us to hang out.  We started by walking a 5k for charity (okay, we walked *most* of it!) and then we went to see a movie (Odd Life of Timothy Green – I was unimpressed).

This meant Rick was in charge of going to get our basket. (We almost wound up basketless! But he made it at the last minute!)  Seems there is always something new and different in the basket – something I’ve never tried before or haven’t had in years.  This week, it was leeks!

I usually do my grocery shopping on Friday – I hit Sprouts on my way home from work – so I never quite know what produce we’ll have and just wind up winging it. I also had…

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Too excited to wait!

Just a quick post because I’m bursting at the seams with pride and excitement!

I missed a call at lunch. Listening to the voicemail got me all teary-eyed.  It was a message from the gifted & talented coordinator at our kids’ elementary school.

Robbie’s been in first grade for less than 8 full days and they want to know if I’d like him tested for the gifted & talented program!   I’m still a little awestruck.

Standard procedure is to test new students in the Spring – Fall testing is for the children that were in kindergarten at the same school.  Robbie’s teacher recognized him as one of the children she felt could be tested for the program now.  Paperwork was due 8/31!  The coordinator gave us until tomorrow to fill out the forms and get them over.  I printed them out immediately and had them ready to go.  I was only waiting on Rick to wake up so I could tell him.  I felt like I should at least let him know before setting it up!

His first text to me was, “I’m in favor of having him tested ASAP, btw.”  🙂

Best part is that he’s already in the class with the 1st grade GT teacher, so he will get to stay in that classroom. And our elementary school is the GT school for the district, so he won’t have to change schools next year, either.

I’m so excited!  He definitely needs to be challenged and he’s well past the coursework they’re doing now, so this would be wonderful for him.

“I love school!”

These are words I never heard Ryan say last year.  In fact, it was far more often the opposite came out of his mouth.  He’d say he hated school, we’d ask why…he’d usually say, “Because it’s too hard.”

This post by a fellow blogger made me consider how far we’ve come since last year when it coms to Ryan’s self-esteem.  I’m not sure what changed, but my theory is Ryan’s ability to communicate better has helped him in other aspects of his life.  Speech has always been something he’s struggled with, but over the past two years we’ve seen so much improvement!

Last year, he was getting in trouble left and right for his anger.  He’d get reprimanded for something and the second the teacher went to change his “color” in his folder, he’d just have a meltdown.  The meltdown itself was often more cause for disciplinary action than the original infraction. This would usually all begin with him acting silly in class. 

That’s what Ryan does when he feels uncomfortable or challenged – he makes a joke, giggles, wiggles, etc.  Part of me is glad that he doesn’t immediately resort to anger like he used to, but the silliness can cause problems.

So far this year, we haven’t had any anger issues at all.  In fact, in the first 8 days of school, he’s only had 2 “yellow” days – one was for talking when the teacher was talking and the other was for getting out of line to get a drink after recess.  I’ve never been so proud of yellow days before!  Last year, either of those moves resulting in a color change would have likely developed into a full tilt explosion. 

Ryan’s new mantra has become, “I love school!”  He told us this morning that he loves school, but loves summer, too.  He actually comes home happy and he wants to tell us about his day.  Robbie has the same teacher this year that Ryan had last year.  I jokingly told her the other day that I’ve learned more about her in the last week (through Robbie’s tales of school) than I ever did last year! 

Ryan’s reading has improved so much since last year.  I feel guilty at times for not working with each kid individually more, but I think the combination of our reading time in the evenings (the hour before bed) mixed with a little brotherly competition (Robbie’s by far the strongest reader) has done wonders.  I introduced the boys to Shel Silverstein last year – Where the Sidewalk Ends is one of my favorite books from childhood.  It’s now one of their favorites, too.  Ryan used to struggle reading anything from that book (granted, the poetic license isn’t really teaching grammar or proper pronunciation at times!), but now he’s doing so well. 

As a side note, I’m starting to wonder if books like WSE are better for weak readers than I’d originally thought.  It’s one thing to guess what the next word is, but authors like Silverstein and Dr. Seuss throw you for so many loops that they force you to SOUND IT OUT.  What’s that? You’ve got a Wocket in your pocket?  You went for a ride in a flying shoe with Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, too?  I think these authors – and others like them – help children have FUN with words. 

Last night, Ryan was telling us everything he’d learned in school.  They’re discussing civil rights and he was going on about Thurgood Marshall and Harriet Tubman (though, admittedly, he made us guess at Harriet Tubman – he couldn’t remember her name, just that “she helped people find new homes and she changed her name when she was 18”).  I’ve never heard him go on about what he’d learned in class before.  It was really great to hear him so excited about learning.

I know it’s early in the school year, but this year already feels infinitely better than last year.  Rick’s easing the boys into walking to/from school (currently walking most of the way with them, but will slowly wean them off having him there the whole way).  I’m making them healthy lunches – and they’re coming home with empty lunch boxes most days!  Even Colin is reading better, when he’s willing to sit down and try for more than a few minutes. 

I hope this school year continues to be a good one. Here’s hoping for a good school year for all of you other moms and dads out there, too!

This.

Flappiness Is...

Earlier this summer, a well-meaning acquaintance I was chatting with at a birthday party asked me an honest question — “What’s it’s like to be a mom of an autistic child?”  She wasn’t being nosy.  I happen to like her and know that she was genuinely interested in my experience.  But what I saw in her eyes was pity.  She even teared up while we were talking.  Those of us with special needs children know that look.  I called it The Look of Tragedy.  Again, she meant no harm.  So, I got to thinking.  What is it like to have an autistic child?  After all, they come in all sorts of shapes and varieties.  I’m just starting out on this journey, yet many have seen their children through to adulthood.  Some of our children will be self-sufficient.  And some will live with us or in a group facility for the…

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Need your help, please!!

I don’t do this often, but I could really use your votes if you’d be willing to spare just a couple of minutes.  This would really mean a lot to me!!

I’ve qualified for a cooking contest and the grand prize is $150 to Whole Foods!  As you all know, I’m always trying to feed my family healthier foods, so this would help out quite a bit!

Please check out my recipe here: http://cavegirlcuisine.net/2012/09/01/entry-1-pan-seared-sirloin-with-maple-brussels-sprouts-amandine/#

To vote, just comment on the recipe.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!!

 

Thank you all in advance.  I appreciate you!!

First Day of School!

Like so many other parents, yesterday was a big day for me.  Er, I mean…for my boys!  Yeah, that’s what I meant!

They love Ninjago. Can you tell?

Colin and Ryan both started 2nd grade and Robbie started 1st grade this year.  Colin and Ryan went to the same school last year, so it was exciting to see what teacher they’d have and which friends were in their class again this year, but otherwise they know the ropes pretty well and I’m not terribly worried about them.  As an added bonus, Colin’s special education teacher was also moved to the 2nd grade wing, so that was one less change for him!

Robbie, however, is new to this school. And he’s a 1st grader.  It’s a tad unorthodox, but he really is a sharp kid with a big heart, so I’m hoping he’ll do well.  Of course, I was still a nervous wreck yesterday morning.  I took off for the day and scheduled some other appointments as well, but my main focus was making sure everyone had a smooth start for their first day.

We were all ready to leave the house and walk to school together when we realized Rob’s glasses were missing!  Aw, man!  We searched high and low – all five of us turned everything upside down and still couldn’t find them.  Rob’s response, “Well, we’re going to get new glasses later today, right? So it’s okay.”  Uh. NO.  I mean, yes, we were going to get him an eye exam and get new glasses, but that doesn’t make it okay to lose the first pair.  Those things are EXPENSIVE!

Ryan is blind as a bat without his glasses, so he has kept incredibly good track of them! (The lady at Lenscrafters told us he likely would!)  We just ordered him a new pair the other day, but mainly just because his current ones are a little scratched up and he needed a check up anyhow. 

Rob’s last pair of glasses were purchased in MARCH.  And now they’re MIA.  *sigh*  We learned yesterday afternoon that he needed a new prescription anyhow.  I had been a bad mom and not taken him in for a check up for entirely too long.  He has strabismus (his right eye is not strong and sometimes turns in), so he sees a specialist.  They’re a little harder to get into…and a million other excuses I could make, but won’t.  I won’t let him go that long again.  In fact, with the new script, doc wants to see us back in 2 months anyhow (appointment has already been made!).

Check out those stylish new frames! We swear by these “twistable” frames. I won’t buy anything else. These things are practically indestructible!

I felt bad picking him up from school early on his first day, but it was really great to get the chance to talk to him about his first day at the “big boy” school.  And boy did he have a lot to tell me!  He loves it.  That makes me SO happy.  He also loved the lunch I packed him. I quizzed him about what his favorite parts were (the cheese cubes and the granola) – I’m trying to get away from the boring-old-sandwich routine. 

Robbie’s birthday is in 2 weeks.  Eep!  Starting a new school so soon before your birthday can cause challenges – namely, who do you invite?  I told him he should start thinking about that as his birthday party will probably be on the 15th (we might push it out a week to give him more time) and he’ll have to tell me who he wants to invite.  I wish we could invite the whole class – that would be easier in a way – but I can’t afford a party for 25 kids! 

His response?  He wants to invite his teacher and the other 1st grade teacher (Colin and Ryan’s teachers last year).  I told him he probably needs to think about kids his own age instead.

Best part was all three boys had green days.  Yay!  What a great start to the week.  We had a great dinner, watched a little TV and then spent the last hour reading books before bed.  I’m really glad school is back in session. 🙂

Dear JC Penney,

Free Back to School Haircuts! (cute video)

Dear JC Penney,

About a month ago, my mom emailed me letting me know that card holders were given advance notice of your upcoming promotion – free back to school haircuts for kids K-6th grade.  I thought, “Oh! I had better jump on that before it goes public so we can get a spot!”

I then promptly forgot about it.

About a week ago, I saw a commercial for this promotion on television and I thought, “Oh no! I should have called before now! Surely they’re out of spots!”

And then I waited a few more days, because a) I’m a procrastinator and b) I figured I’d already missed my chance anyhow.

Today, I called the closest JCP Salon, just to check.  What I was told by the woman who answered the phone shocked me.

Not only are you not booked up, many stores have extended their hours to fit more kids in for cuts.  Free haircuts. I had my pick of dates/times.  I actually booked an appointment time for all three boys to get haircuts at the same time, for free, when both Rick and I can be there. 

Thank you.  It’s been a while since a company has shocked me in a GOOD way.  I thought for sure this was some gimmick to just get the JCP brand in people’s minds.  I figured there would be some limit imposed  – maybe 5 kids/day? – and you’d be booked up in a heartbeat.  True, you’re still getting your name out there – and I’m sure some parents will do their back-to-school shopping while they’re there getting haircuts – but I’m still impressed. 

As the mother of 3 kids, you’ve saved me roughly $60.  You’ve made my day.

Thank you,

Sara

Vacation pics!

Okay… I’m new at this whole posting multiple pictures at once thing. Can’t figure out how to caption without altering the pic and since I uploaded these from home, I don’t have that option!  Simple enough, though.  The first 3 pics were taken on the Comal River in New Braunfels. The next 6 pics were from our bike tour of Austin, TX  (the 2nd pic of that batch features one of Austin’s homeless that decided to catch us at a red light and assist in narrating the tour!).  The remainder of the pics were taken at the Barton Springs Greenbelt in Austin – we took a cooler of beer and my brother’s two adorable pups with us.

Fun times!