Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This is the best banana chocolate chip muffin recipe ever. Really. I've misplaced my recipe more times that I want to admit and I've googled similar recipes but not one has been the same.

Try them. They are so good.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 extra ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Puree bananas in a blender. (I just using a mixer on high speed.) In a medium bowl, beat pureed bananas, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla until well blended. In a large bowl, combine flower, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Pour in banana mixture. Mix until just blended. Spoon into well greased muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Remove from pan. Makes 12 muffins.

Seriously Tasty~ My kids love these, especially when warm out of the oven. Just a few minutes ago, my eldest (and most picky eater) saw the recipe and said, "Banana and chocolate? I'm glad I didn't know that. That doesn't sound good together." Never mind that he has been eating these for years and gobbled them up just yesterday morning before school.
So... even if you don't like bananas or chocolate (as if you could not like chocolate), try these. They are that good.

I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday.

Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day

We took pictures before and after school today.
This morning I did my traditional photos. While the kids were at school, I found wonderful signs (as free printables) at Chickabug.com. It was tricky but I convinced them to let me take more photos after they got home.

Of course, before I convinced them to do the photos, we had a tasty snack.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our 504 Plan Allergy Meeting

I've written this post twice. My debate~ Should I share some details of our plan or just let the curious know how the meeting went? Sharing the details might help others but it also was going to be a really long post. If there's interest, I'll post more about the plans we put in place for my son.

Our 504 Plan Meeting:
Having a 504 Plan is new to us. Our last school didn't require it and we didn't think we needed it. This school asked for it as soon as they saw my son's medical forms from his allergist.

Initially, I was nervous. You can read about that here: The Big Reveal

The meeting went well. We were very pleased with the response from the school staff: principal, school nurse, school counselor, and teacher. We discussed my son's allergy history and talked about our desires for his plan. Ideas were bounced around and the results were that they are implementing what we wanted.

About 3/4 of the way through the meeting, the principal went to get my son's teacher. Our impression was that she had no idea that she was getting a peanut allergy kid in her classroom until the principal got her. That impression was based on the questions my husband heard her asking the principal on the way in the room. She also seemed the least at ease. That said, she was very amenable when we shared our classroom ideas.

The meeting was on Monday. On Friday, I went to the school to check in some of my son's meds. There was a notice about the school having a peanut allergy kid posted to the office window. Also, when we were meeting my 5th grader's teacher, she said something to the effect of, 'Oh, are you the one that has a peanut allergy kid?'. The staff had a meeting about my son's peanut allergy and the impact it would have on the school. She said it was a great meeting. I saw the school counselor that day and she told me they had their epipen training and a lot of great questions were asked. I also talked to my son's teacher again. I'm optimistic about how we will work together.

Tomorrow is the first day of school.

I have a mix of emotions:
I am sad summer is over.
I am excited for the kids to make friends.
I am nervous about my son feeling comfortable with the allergy provisions put in place.

I am not worried. I think, being nervous about school starting for an allergy kid is as normal as kids being excited about Christmas.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Angry Birds

Yesterday morning, I was reading about planning school lunches and I found something that made me jump up and run into the kitchen. I had all of the ingredients to make a lunch that would make my kids smile.

I decided we'd have lunch for breakfast and that I'd keep it a secret until I finished the sandwiches.

Angry Bird Sandwiches
Circle sandwiches with sunbutter (or peanut butter) in the middle and jelly on top. Add marshmallows, raisins, and oranges to make a mean angry bird face.

I added fruit, cheese, and pepperoni as sides. I called the kids to the table and told said,

"I am angry summer break is almost over."

Their expressions were priceless.

The kids gobbled them up with vigor.
All except for one, he was intent on making his bird crazy angry.

His masterpiece was grand.

He was just a little proud of his wild bird.

I'm linking up with Ann Kroeker's Food on Fridays.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Big Reveal

Today's the big reveal.
It seems absurd to suggest that idea but, I am anticipating an unveiling of a disposition. Today, I will meet the school principal, nurse, and counselor at our new school. We will discuss my son's food allergy and his asthma. I will discover their attitudes and desired approach.

I am hoping for the best. I am praying for the best.

The school nurse called me last week to request a 504 Plan meeting.

What is a 504 Plan?

The 504 Plan takes its name from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. It applies to all institutions, including public schools, which receive financial assistance from the federal government. The purpose of Section 504 as it relates to students with food allergies is to ensure that a child's education is not negatively affected by your child's food allergy.
Did you know that a severe food allergy, one that can lead to anaphylaxis, is considered a disability? Students are protected by a law so that they cannot be discriminated against on the basis of a severe food allergy or asthma (included under the "other health impairment" section). Interesting, isn't it?

My husband and I are well-informed about food allergies. And yet, we sat up last night researching 504 Plans, Emergency Care Plans, Individual Health Plans and Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The bottom line is: My son will be kept safe. Beyond that, we have to determine the reasonable provisions that need to be made for him.

Parents of food allergic kids take many approaches to protecting their kids. I've been amazed by the lack of provisions for some and surprised by the extremely strict rules for others. So many factors come into play: the severity of the food allergy (or the perceived severity), the allergist's approach to managing food allergies, and past allergic reactions and experiences.

When you consider the dissonance between adults managing food allergies (parents and doctors, alike) and the way food allergies are covered in the news, it is no wonder that the general public doesn't know what to think about food allergies.

So, the big reveal... What will the attitudes be? How will the medication be handled? What provisions will be put in place?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank #162

Each Thursday I try to make a list of my thankful thoughts. Sometimes I jot it down on paper, sometimes I share that list here, and other times I just highlight one or two things that I am thankful for. This is my Thursday Thanks Tank...

I spent the day thinking about what makes me smile. And then, the day got away from me.

I am thankful for:

- Being a complete family. I've done separation a few times due to military assignments. This last separation was job related. It feels so good to be a family day in and day out. I love how complete it feels.

- Coaches. It's interesting how a good coach can have a great impact on a kid. All three of my boys have good soccer coaches. It's great to see them work hard and try their best because they want to please their coach. I'm thankful for coaches and the volunteer hours they put in.

- Air conditioning. The A/C in the van is still out. My husband is sweet to drive it. In the meantime, I'm still loving driving his truck. I also love the air conditioning in our home.

- Cool nights. The nights are just perfect. They are cool enough to leave the windows open overnight. Sleeping to the sounds of the outdoors (crickets instead of frogs!) is something I missed. (We couldn't really manage that much in the NW because my son's allergies were so bad. He is doing wonderful here.

- Changed Attitude. I'm excited about school starting. This is a big switch. Last week I had a really bad attitude. Not sure why I was so surprised, but I have some work to do at the new school to keep my food allergic kid safe. I had a wonderful talk with a nurse that's in the district and now I am looking forward to doing all I can to make the school a safe place for kids with food allergies.

- This: "I love you even when I am grumpy." My daughter has said that twice to me this week. I melted both times. (She's three. She can do grumpy quite well.)

- Outside lights. The lady that we are renting the house from left some decorative outside lights for us to enjoy. They hang in the trees in our backyard. They are set on a timer. It's a simple pleasure but I love them.

- The patio. We have a covered patio. Every morning I get my coffee and sit on the patio. It's cool in the morning. The sun is just coming over the hills. The wind blows and leaves rustle. I watch the birds eat plumbs off the plumb tree or play in the bird bath. I admire the flowers. This is my peaceful place. It is brings me joy... so much so that I wake myself up early (who am I kidding? I get my husband to wake me up) so that I can enjoy it before the kids wake up. I am thankful -oh so thankful- for this peaceful spot.

Those are my thankful thoughts tonight.
Life is good. We are still in the middle of transition- lots of boxes yet to unpack- but we are happy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our New House

Tomorrow is Moving Day (again!). We got the keys to our house tonight. The movers will bring our stuff in the morning. We looking forward to getting settled. Let the unpacking begin!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank #161

Each Thursday I try to make a list of my thankful thoughts. Sometimes I jot it down on paper, sometimes I share that list here, and other times I just highlight one or two things that I am thankful for. This is my Thursday Thanks Tank.

I am thankful for:

Last Saturday and all of the things that made my birthday special...

Expressions of birthday wishes through facebook messages, texts, phone calls, cards in the mail

a baby fix: (I cannot believe my 10 year old asked to hold this sweetie. It just proves that no one can resist this little boy.)

lattes by the pool:

an amazing friend (incredibly thankful that her and her mom were willing to drive extra to visit us on their way to see family):

red velvet cake (made from scratch -without a mixer because this furnished apartment doesn't have one- by my husband):

family love:

silly moments:

the kids that helped me celebrate: (picture taken the day after- aren't they great?)

my husband's love:

Did I mention the cake? I called it my "BAMA cake" (but my husband didn't really appreciate the nickname). So good.

I had a fabulous birthday.
I'm thankful for so much more but this was what was on my mind tonight.

Take time to be thankful. It's time well-spent.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wading Through the Week

This week we are headed to the pool as much as possible.

We move into our house and have our belongings delivered next week. I know we are going to miss the the apartment pool. I just don't know if the kids will miss it more than me.

Friday, August 05, 2011


Crumbs - my fragmented thoughts

Some people just don't get safety. I saw a man this week, riding his bike next to a major street. He had a helmet. It was hanging on his handle bars.

I also saw a girl with a full (knee down) hard cast on her leg. She was riding down a hill on a scooter. I imagined what her parents' reaction would be to that.

I don't understand how people can be so knowledgeable about food allergies and still not have a clue.

This week I went to the deli, by myself, to grab a tuna sandwich. I asked the man behind the counter if they used peanut products. He said, "Nope." I explained that my son has a severe peanut allergy and we don't eat out much. His response was, "Oh, that is so common now. It isn't a big deal these days." I was a bit taken aback. So, I asked him if he made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. His answer, "Oh sure we do. It's a great option for kids."

I went to register my kids' for school this week. I had emailed the district back in May and had received an email response that the district takes food allergies seriously, that they don't serve peanut products in the lunch line and that the schools have a peanut free table. When I went to register, I found that the school we are zoned for has - nada- not one thing in place for a food allergy kid. When I mentioned that I'd like a peanut free table, a response I got was, "Well, he'd be the only kid sitting there." Oh boy.

This morning, my 3 year old daughter asked me to buy her (play) kitchen back. It made me recognize that she really doesn't understand what's happened. I think she thinks I sold it in the garage sale I had before we moved. Hold on, baby, just one more week and we will get our stuff back.

Apartment living is interesting. There are so many different kinds of people in an apartment building. I may be wrong but I don't think neighborhoods are as diverse. I've been people watching -just a bit. Of course, I am sure that people are watching us, too. Lord knows they can hear us.

I am finishing up a short book called "White Rabbit." I am reading it because my daughter (my 3 year old) picked up the book because it had a rabbit on it. Isn't that funny? I walked the aisle back and forth, back and forth (because with all 4 of the kids sitting on chairs at the end of the aisle, I couldn't go far) trying to figure out which books to chose. She likes a book based on the cover and I'm reading it. It isn't half bad, either. It's about a quirky 88 year old lady and it makes me miss my grandmother. The bunny on the cover is cute.

Last year I kept my birthday off of Facebook. My thought was, the people that really know me, know my birthday. I was lovingly chided for not listing it. I think my husband may have even posted it was my birthday in his status. This year, I posted it. And, people have been wishing me Happy Birthday off and on today. It's confusing. My birthday isn't until tomorrow. It says so at the top. I keep checking to make sure I got it right. And that's how I know I'm old. I keep checking to see if I listed my birthday correctly. Oy vey.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank #160

Each Thursday I try to make a list of my thankful thoughts. Sometimes I jot it down on paper, sometimes I share that list here, and other times I just highlight one or two things that I am thankful for. This is my Thursday Thanks Tank.

I had a thankful post all planned out in my mind yesterday. And then today happened and I am not feeling all that thankful. I suppose that's just the way it goes sometimes.

I am thankful:

1. Tomorrow is Friday.
2. My friend, Kim, is passing through town and visiting me this weekend.
3. I found a sweet dress on sale at gymboree. My daughter so needed that dress.
4. My husband took the kids out to shop and gave me a night to myself. (That was last night. It was wonderful.)
5. I get looks of admiration (is that what it is?) from guys when I am driving my husband's GMC Sierra truck. (And then they see all of the kids pile out of the truck... oh well.)
6. My friend, Kim, is passing through town and visiting me this weekend. Did I mention she will get here tomorrow?
7. My husband is making a grocery list (yep, right now - company tomorrow). He's taking care of the food this weekend.
8. Air conditioning in the truck. (Yep, van a/c is still not working.)
9. New books to read. I am going to enjoy belonging to a library system with 12 libraries within it.
10. Starbucks. Oh why not be thankful for it? I know it isn't the first time. Today was a good Starbucks day. Two words: Treat receipt.
11. My kids. They are super cute. And they were well-behaved at the library. Usually library trips with my 4 kids are stressful (they are not good at quiet) but this time it was wonderful.
12. Cake. My husband's making a cake tomorrow night. He's planning it out now. It might be a birthday cake... and it sounds so good right now.

Turns out this was the perfect thing to do tonight. It helped me refocus.
Take time to be thankful. It's time well-spent!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: 32

Destination Unknown

I was in the international terminal of the airport. Going through customs was proving to be a pain. Why were they searching every single item I owned? That's what it felt like. I was excited to be going on a trip and I was getting impatient to get the trip started.

Then, I woke up.

I sipped on the coffee that was tenderly left on the bedside table by my adoring husband.
I made my way into the living room and cuddled with a reading 7 year old. We discussed big screen TV's and why people can't live forever.
My 10 year old woke up. I inspected his arm, which is hurting from a fall he took on the soccer field (incidentally in the same place he broke it a few years ago).
I searched for missing legos for my 6 year old.
I discovered that my 3 year old calls a specific cereal "dry cereal" because when daddy gave it to her he let her have it dry and called it dry cereal. So, in her mind, only one kind of cereal is "dry" and she wanted milk with it.

Some days I feel like I am in a foreign world. How did I get here being doted on, discussing philosophy, doctoring kids, and deciphering language barriers.

My destination today is unknown.
I am trying to convince the kids it would be fun to visit the library and get signed up for library cards. One wants to go to the pool. One wants to play legos. One wants to play video games (Oh, who am I kidding? They all want to do that.) One wants to follow her older brother around and copy his actions.

I am not at all sure where we will end up. I do know it will be an eventful journey.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Arrogant Disrespect and Apathy

When the group arrived, four kids and two adults were in the pool. A boy wearing glasses, sat relaxing in a lawn chair next to the hot tub reading a book. There were 4 kids in the arriving group and a man trailed after them. The kids put their stuff down and began running and jumping into the pool, splashing a lady and her 12 year old daughter. They were laughing, running and splashing. The lady and her daughter were not amused when they kept moving to a different area only to find the kids still splashing them.

The oldest in the group of kids was clearly the leader, as the other kids followed him and copied his actions. He seemed to be about 11.

He ran and jumped into the hot tub. His jump didn't produce the splash he wanted. He took off his mask scooped up water and threw it at the 10 year old that was reading a book. Startled, the boy shrugged it off, and began reading again.

I gave the 11 year old a mean glare. In defiance, he splashed the boy again.

A minute later I decided to lay on a lawn chair near the hot tub.

The 10 year old decided to get in the pool.

Within a few minutes, the 11 year old was in the pool, with 3 other boys in tow. He began taunting the 10 year old.

11 year old, "You're gay."

10 year old, "No"

11 year old, "That boy (pointing to one in his group) said you are gay."

10 year old, "No."

11 year old, "Yes you are."

10 year old, "No, I'm not. NO."

The 11 year old looked up and saw my stare. Smugly he said, "He (pointing the 10 year old's brother) said my brother is gay.

I answered: "No. He did not."

The rest of the pool visit by the 2nd group of kids consisted of a medley of disrespectful actions. The boys went into the work out room (you have to go through there to go to the bathrooms) and I witnessed them hanging on weight machines until they were kicked out of the gym area. They also were messing with a pool light (the kind that is under water on the side of the wall). The light came out of the pool wall. I did not witness when it came out of the wall so I could not claim with absolute certainty (when the apartment manager came to inspect it) that it was their fault. I have my suspicions, though.

The other adults (which included 3 additional adults and two more kids) were astounded that the dad did nothing but layout in the sun. He did not care that the kids were being disrespectful to others and messing with the pool property. When the kids were restless (and not allowed to ride their scooters into the pool), the dad said, "Oh, are you ready to go?" About that time, an apartment manager yelled out to the man, by name, that his kids were being disrespectful and they needed to stop or they wouldn't be allowed back. They left.

The light was reported and the pool had to be closed for the maintenance worker to fix the light.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The 10 year old is my son. The 11 year old was out of control. He was a bully. The dad was either oblivious or apathetic.

I wanted to yell at the man. I wanted to pull the 11 year old out of the pool and lecture him. I knew that would be fruitless. I wanted to yell at that man.

More than anything, I wanted to support my son - not embarrass him but support him. Parenting a child that is easily picked on is difficult.

We talked about the incident later. Aside from not embarrassing my son at the pool, the best thing I could do was to make sure we discussed what happened. My son recognizes the problem was the other kid and not him. But, he admits that he didn't like what he was saying to him and how he was treating him.

I want to empower my son and encourage him to be strong and confident.

The arrogant disrespect from the other boy and the severe apathy of the man has left me impassioned and indignant.

My prayer: Oh Lord, please help my son have a good year in this new school he will be attending. Please let him make wonderful friends. Give him confidence and let him have fun. Give me wisdom to guide and encourage.

Monday, August 01, 2011

So Much To See

I moved from a small rural town of around 14,000 to a town with over 90,000, which is next to (really connected to) a town of over 220,000.This past weekend - yesterday- I drove around by myself. I felt like a kid in a state of amazement. There is so much here. I am not accustomed to the endless shops and people. It both thrills me and startles me. I've been longing to enjoy life without a constant desire to acquire. I wonder if I will be able to continue to peruse simplicity with all of the glitz around me. I suppose simplicity in a suburb might look different from simplicity in a rural town. I also wonder how long it will take for me to belong here. It's August. At the end of the month, my kids will start school. The soccer season has begun. I will meet people through the kids' activities. I want to find activities and pursuits that I enjoy. We have found a house to rent. We should be able to move in two weeks. I am thrilled with the newness of it all.

I am enjoying a genesis.

I am enjoying the numerous coffee shops. It's comforting, this coffee habit of mine... but sometimes I feel a little lost... like this man in the coffee beans.