Archive | October, 2010

Minestrone Soup

31 Oct

I’m not a big fan of the un warm seasons, but when it does start to get cool out, I love to work on some nice soups.  Ah who am I kidding, I make soups year round regardless of the weather!

One of my favorites is this minestrone soup.  You know minestrone is basically Italian vegetable soup.  My husband and I love it but I am thrilled that my kids are now lovin it too.  It’s hearty, very low fat and delicious and so easy too.

You can really use any veggies you want but I generally use cabbage, carrots, celery, onion, zucchini and a potatoe.

Except today I had no onion and no zucchini (sometimes I keep a bag frozen for this recipe) and no substitute but it was just fine!

So, pour a little olive in a pan and saute a chopped onion (I had to subsitute with the dry onion from the jar) and 1 or 2 stalks of celery.  You can also add garlic but I don’t.  Saute around 5 minutes.

Then add 2 or 3 chopped carrots, and at least 1 cup of chopped cabbage (I didn’t have a zucchini or a potato but would have added 1 of each chopped) and saute for around 5 minutes.  (You’ll notice my measurements are not exact — because some days I feel like more of one veg than the other.  Put in as much or little veggies as you like)

Then add 1 can of chick peas, drained.

Now you have to add tomato paste.  The recipe calls for 1 can but sometimes I like to add 2 especially if I’m adding a lot of vegetables.  It’s your choice!

In addition to the paste, you will need to add water.  If you use  1 can add 8 cups of water.  If you use 2 you can put in 10 -12 cups of water, or more.

Let this boil and then simmer for at least and hour.  Then add around 1 cup of cooked pasta ( I use elbows).

Salt and pepper to taste….you’ll want to add at least a tablespoon of salt and keep adding as needed (which will depend on how much water you used).  I like to use garlic salt.  Sometimes I put hot pepper in my husband’s bowl for some kick.

When I tell you the kids LOVE it I’m not kidding!

I usually give it to them with a piece of cheese and a bowl of fruit.

My husband usually makes popovers with the soup.  I’ll post that recipe some time.

I’m always looking for new soup recipes…what are you cookin up?

Parade Particulars

29 Oct

The kids were standing next to my bed tapping my face around 6 this a.m…..dying to get their costumes on…

I’m so genuinely happy that the school parades are over.  I had about 2 hours of aggravation prior to them.  Wanting to wear short sleeves (it is 50 degrees out), zipper breaking, costume changing in addition to the dismay I was feeling having to miss the twins parading (but her dad went) so I could be there at the little one’s.

Nonetheless, within 45 minutes, all 3 had paraded successfully.

SO, we have the policeman

The stapled wings fairy (who was almost a witch)

and the grumpy monkey (who disrobed during her parade)

I’m often standing around at these things feeling alone in my disdain.  The moms seem to be brimming with excitement.  I just don’t have a lot of holiday enthusiasm and I don’t get why they all have to be so overdone in school.  My little one sat there and pleaded that she was tired and wanted to go inside.  The twins went on a long parade and my husband said they were dragging.  Isn’t trick or treating enough excitement for kids?!  It was when I was a kid.  I don’t even remember wearing my costume to school.

Like this article says, it just makes the already busy existence for parents even more chaotic and I guess I’m feeling it!

So what are your thoughts about Halloween?  Anyone a hater like me?!

Have a happy!

Hunting Pumpkins and Boys

28 Oct

My little one had a pumpkin hunt in her school this week.  Parents were invited to come back and watch at 10:10 a.m.  I had to drive my sister in law somewhere so I didn’t get there until 10:13.  By that time, she had already found her pumpkin and was on to more interesting things…playing with the boys.

It’s funny because my kindergarteners are really starting to prefer to play with friends of the same gender.  My big guy even likes to declare on a regular basis

I’m having none girls at my birthday party!

But the little one, she’s all about playing with the boys.  In fact she plays with her brother as much as, if not more, than her sister.

Anyway back to pumpkins, the class was really cute, but really I’m not going to be sad when in a few days, we’re done with pumpkins!

Tomorrow all 3 are Halloween parading with their schools simultaneously…let the fun begin!

Guidance Regarding the Parent-Teacher Conference

27 Oct
A leader teach is able to help this student wi...

Image via Wikipedia

Conferences are coming up for us next week.  I’m still traumatized by one of the preschool conferences a couple of years ago, where the bitch teacher spent our 10 minutes together telling me how out of control the twins are in class…they were two and a half.

They’ve matured a bit, as have I, and with that I realize it’s helpful for me to think through how I’d like to optimize that little bit of precious time with my kid’s teachers.

Found some really interesting articles to check out:

Acing Parent-Teacher Conferences,
10 Questions A Parent Must Ask At School Conferences and (this one is a little older but still helpful I think) Parent-Teacher Conferences

But surely the most wisdom, for me, comes from my sister, who’s back to talk about conferences….

Parent-Teacher Conferences

You’ve made it through the first couple months of school.  Your children are adjusted, you’ve met the teacher at least once or twice in group settings, and now it’s time for your first official Parent-Teacher Conference.

Most parents are anxious about the conferences.  It can be a time fraught with emotion.  Many questions pop into your mind:  How’s my kid doing?  Am I going to hear something that’s going to freak me out?  What if the teacher describes a totally different child than the one I know at home?  The following may help you as you get ready for your first conference.

Scheduling the conference:

  • If you have the opportunity to select a time for the conference, choose a time you can actually make. It’s sounds silly, but I once had a parent cancel at the last minute because the conference time she selected was the same time as her daughter’s weekly ballet lesson.  This year, a mom was a no-show for a conference time she had chosen.  When I wrote to her and said, “I am sorry you were not able to make the conference time you chose, “ her response was, “I work then. I can’t come at that time.”  You can imagine what my thoughts were.
  • If your plans change, let the teacher know as soon as possible that you need to reschedule. That’s just common courtesy.  We understand that lives are complicated and stuff happens.  Just tell us that you have a conflict and we will work out something.  Although conference schedules are set by the administration and there are limitations, we have some flexibility about accommodating parents who have extenuating circumstances.
  • If, somehow, you actually forget to come, just write a note and apologize! We get it.  Even the most organized people forget stuff.  We are not going to think you are a bad parent.  Just own your mistake and move on!

Conference day:

  • Come prepared with your questions. You don’t necessarily have to bring a list with you.  But most conferences are 15 to 30 minutes, at the very most.  If you don’t have questions, that’s okay, too.
  • Show up on time. If you are lucky, your teacher will be running on time.  There is a chance you will have to wait a few minutes.  I know how annoying it is when you left work early, made arrangements for your kids, and now you are waiting…more than a few minutes.  Don’t be shy about knocking on the door and giving the teacher a little wave if you’ve been waiting more than 5 minutes.  While most teachers are comfortable letting parents know when the conference time is over, some teachers and parents need a little reminder.
  • What to expect: The teacher should discuss your child’s academic progress and social development.  She will also bring up any concerns and highlight your child’s strengths.  I usually share anecdotes and show samples of my students’ work to support my comments.
  • Don’t wait for the end of the conference to bring up a big issue or ask an important question. I usually begin a conference asking the parents if they have any specific concerns or issues they’d like me to address during our conversation.  Most of the time, it’s something I had already planned to discuss and usually relates to general progress.  However, it’s helpful to me because I know what is on the parents’ minds.  I may even address their concerns first to make sure they can be discussed in our allotted time.
  • It’s reasonable for you to ask to see samples of your child’s work. While every teacher has her own way of running conferences, most teachers have samples of work to show you as we discuss your child’s progress.
  • Don’t ask the teacher how your child stacks up compared to the rest of the class. A better way to phrase that would be “Is my child within the range of what is expected for his age?”  It’s perfectly okay to ask the teacher how to support your child at home with any areas of relative weakness and how to enhance demonstrated strengths.
  • Think twice about asking a teacher how you can “push” your child at home. It’s not a race.  If your child is succeeding in school, you are already doing a great job at home.  If you are so inclined, do ask the teacher if there are any activities that may continue to inspire and motivate your child to keep thinking and exploring.  Most teachers have lots of suggestions and even handouts listing activities, websites, etc. that contain fun ways to reinforce basic concepts, explore new ideas and basically tickle your kids’ brains.
  • Never ask a teacher about other children in the class. This does not apply if your child is having a specific issue with another student.  However, the conversation should be limited to your child’s interaction with the other student, not your opinions or queries about the other child’s home life, needs, behaviors, etc.

If your child has special needs:

  • Don’t be alarmed if you see a special area teacher at your child’s conference. In some schools, the speech teacher, O.T., school psychologist or another support person may be sitting at the table when you walk into your child’s conference.  It may be because your child is receiving building support and you are getting a progress report.  It may be because issues had arisen in class – which you may or may not already know about it – and support personnel could offer more insight and a plan to help your child.  This is not a bad thing.  Getting the help your kid needs is what’s important.  In fact, when support and interventions are readily available and staff are available to answer your questions, this is all really good and a relief to parents who are looking for answers.
  • Sometimes there are too many issues to discuss in a standard Parent-Teacher Conference. Issues can arise which merit further discussion.  You will probably have to table these for another day, when more time can be devoted and the appropriate school personnel can be available, if necessary.

This is not your last conversation about your child:

  • When the conference is over your teacher will start closing folders, stacking your child’s work, and will thank you for coming in.  She may begin a sentence with, “Before we end…” She may stand up if she is noticing that you are making no move to leave.  Please be respectful of her time, and the needs of the parents who are waiting in the hall.  Most parents would love to sit all day and listen to the teacher talk about their children.  Some parents just love to hang around and socialize with the teacher.  Unfortunately, time is not a luxury.  Also, in the same way Back to School Night was not a time for private conferences, this is not the opportunity for you to ask about the curriculum for the rest of the school year.
  • Remember that you will have other communication from the teacher about your child. When you get home and realize you forgot to ask about something or there is something the teacher said that concerns you, we want you to contact us.

In closing…

  • Teachers are sensitive to your feelings. We do not like to have to tell you upsetting news about your child.   We do so because it’s our responsibility to bring important issues to the surface so a plan can be made to help your child.
  • How are you challenging my child? This is often a favorite question from parents who are told that their child is making terrific progress and that there are really no concerns.  As I mentioned earlier, teachers provide a wealth of activities that stimulate and enhance your child’s school experience.  Teachers will have suggestions for parents, as well.  But here’s the thing:  if your child is excited about school, is making speedy progress, that all indicates that your child is being challenged.  A bored child is a disappointed child.  A disappointed child often does not do well in school, regardless of ability.

Parent-Teacher conferences can be as nerve-wracking for teachers as they are for parents.  We often have 12-16 conferences in one day.  It is draining for us. While we have an idea of how our conversations will go with any set of parents, we can never be sure.

Parent-Teachers conferences can be wonderful, even when there are difficult issues to discuss.  A successful conference happens when teachers feel like they have the support of the parents; when parents and teachers feel like they are talking about the same child; when parents feel that teachers really know their child, not just their academic strengths and weaknesses, but everything from their favorite books to whether they prefer to work alone or in groups.  When the conference becomes a conversation, it is a truly an uplifting experience for the teachers, the parents, and most importantly…your child.

Successful Revisit To Adventureland

26 Oct

On Sunday, we decided to go to Adventureland  amusement park again.  I already told you about our traumatic visit over the summer. I had written a letter about what I viewed as serious safety concerns with one of the rides my son almost fell off of.  The owner responded with a concerned, appropriate letter and 5 unlimited ride passes.  Initially we vowed to never return to that awful place, but, as the months wore on, we were enticed by the passes.  They expire next weekend, so we wanted to use them, but we did so cautiously.

The weather was perfect, high 60’s and sunny and it was not crowded at all (note to self:  this is a much better time of year to go!).  We all booed the bad ride as we walked by but other than that, had a very pleasurable day.

We were there for 4 hours.  4 hours!

I went on the Ladybug roller coaster 9 times.  I’m not kidding.  We had a system going.  Little one was in the stroller.  As soon as my husband would hop off the roller coaster with a twin, I’d jump on line with another.  I’m completely desensitized to that roller coaster now.

They loved the ferris wheel, and were thrilled we could all be on together, “the whole family”.  I was delighted to actually be in a picture and not taking it…too bad my girl was cut off.

Oh hey and let’s not forget about the dippin’ dots…my first time consuming those odd things.  No surprise it was a hit with the kids.

I was exhausted and the kids didn’t appear to be, that is, until we got in the car.



MiracleBody Shirt Review and Giveaway — ENTER TO WIN (closed)

24 Oct

It used to be that my problem areas were below the waist, but now that I am hitting middle age, I’m finding, sadly, that my problem areas are spreading all about!  I’m trying to do all the right things to keep in good shape, but in the meantime, I’m all about finding great clothes to hide the imperfections.

Well the finding great clothes part started when I received a pair of MiracleBody denim leggings from the Getting Gorgeous event.  I love them.  So I was very excited to get to try out the MiracleBody Classic Scoop neck shirt.

This stylish scoop neck top is so versatile – you can wear it with just about anything. Designed with a hidden inner liner made of lightweight breathable spandex to give you supreme comfort and superior control that lets you breathe easy. Durable static-free tight-knit control fibers hold their shape for years, even with frequent wear. Carefully crafted inner liner creates a sleek smooth silhouette without rolling or riding up. Subtly sewn across the shoulders for a fabulous fashionable one piece look.

The trick is in the built-in shelf bra and hidden inner liner.

The result is a sculpted flawless figure = no belly rolls or muffin tops!

It’s great shirt.  The material feels nice and there’s no hint on the outside about what’s happening underneath!

I was excited to find out that Miraclebody carries tops in addition to jeans; they also carry leggings and skirts…all comfortable and form flattering, essential for us moms.

Miraclebody has generously offered…

One (1) Miraclebody Classic Scoop Neck shirt for one (1) lucky Just Another Manic Mommy reader!


Each of the following will earn an entry:

  1. Visit Miraclebody and leave a comment stating what you would love to have
  2. Become a fan of Just Another Manic Mommy on Facebook and leave a comment
  3. Become an email subscriber of Just Another Manic Mommy (and leave a comment stating it)
  4. Visit MiracleBody on Facebook and leave this link on their wall stating you are entering this giveaway (then leave a comment on this post with your link)
  5. Post a link to this contest on your blog (and then leave a comment on this post with your link)

Winner will be chosen randomly on 11/2/10 and notified via email.

Winner will also be announced on my Facebook Wall.

(Sample provided for review)

Notes From a Babysitter

22 Oct

Two late afternoons per week I am graced with the presence of my lovely and fabulous babysitter.  When I am not working during that time, I tackle appointments, errands, individual kid activities, etc.

Earlier this week I had to take one kid to the doctor and when I came back I dropped her off and got my husband from the train station.  Then we headed out to look for some tables for the living room.

Although I have complete faith in my sitter, I do like to check in with her when I can because afternoon into early evening can be very witchy ( I love that my spell check couldn’t find witchy and wanted me to use bitchy which actually seems to be a more appropriate adjective to describe the scene)  in our house.  This is the actual response I got back from her…

no guys do what you need to do…the storm has past now anyway…you guys really “dodged a bullet” tonight…the girls both decided to fall off the deep end tonight at the same time…I had the little one crying because she didn’t get dessert for throwing the leapster against the wall, she continued to cry because she didn’t want a bath…then the big girl began crying because she wanted a bath and wasn’t getting one…so I had the little one in the bathroom crying and the big girl lying on the hallway floor also crying and poor big guy, the new found voice of reason, trying to calm down his two hysterical sisters…I put the little one to bed first immediately after bath, her feet literally didn’t get to touch the ground as I carried her straight into her room, still crying of course…then I had to wrangle the big girl into her room because she thought she didn’t need to go to bed even though she was still in hysterics…with much resistance, 5 attempts to get out of bed and
a threat from me to confiscate most of her belongings to bring back to my house, she finally gave in and went to sleep…big guy was allowed to sneak out of bed to watch some TV because he was the bestest tonight,but only if he promised to be quiet because I needed to make the big girl believe that he went to bed at the same everyone is in..whew..all in a days work!

Doesn’t she seem awesome?!



A Daisy Girl

21 Oct

When I was a youngster I did Brownies and Girls Scouts.  I have some vague memories.  One of them is the wearing the uniform and the moment, sometime around 5th or 6th grade, when I found myself looking down at the outfit ( I was one of handful of girls wearing that mucky green get up) and realizing I felt like a loser.  Sometime later I was officially done with Girl Scouts.

However, I was totally excited to learn about Daisy Girl Scouts which start in kindergarten.  I pre registered my girl last year to ensure she obtained a spot.  As she is a twin, I was excited for her to engage in an activity separate from her brother filled with girls who also aren’t her little sister.

It was even better news when we learned her best buddy is in her troop.

Although moms were given the opportunity to drop the girls and leave, I wanted to stick around for the first meeting.   I know my girl is getting more mature because she barely acknowledged my presence, which I loved.

When they gathered to pledge the flag and learn the Girl Scout promise and the Girl Scout law, I got a bit choked up as I had one of those how is it possible that she is getting so grown up moments.  (I know, it seems like I’m crying all the time.  Really I was never so emotional until I had kids and my hormones got twisted!)

She loved the crafts and of course snack time was a hit.  But surprisingly, one of her favorite moments was paying her troop dues.  The leaders specifically wanted the money to be collected from the girls. (And as an aside, I have to acknowledge these lovely ladies for volunteering to lead the troop…one of them has 4 children and leads another troop as well.  I told her she is officially a super mom in my book.)

She seemed so empowered!

All in all it was a great time, and she can’t wait until her next meeting.  I’m excited for her to start learning about community service in a fun way.  I love that she loves it and that she has some quality time with her buddy.

Are your kids Girl or Boy Scouts?

Mean-Girl Bullying Trickles Down to Grade School

19 Oct

There’s a lot of press about bullying these days.  It’s horrible to hear about children being tormented and many of us reflect on our difficult childhood moments with relief that that time is over.  But now that I am a parent, the pain runs extra deep as I contemplate my children being tormented.  I thought this was something that we wouldn’t be encountering for a few years so I was disheartened to read this article.

But it’s actually not all that surprising.  Apparently, bullying among girls is beginning much younger.

When I’d drop my son off in his preschool class last year, I always noticed the girls huddled together.  I couldn’t believe my eyes…I could actually see them in high school.  Many of them were much more fashionably dressed than me (actually that’s not hard!) and they seemed to give everyone the once over as they entered the room.  4 year olds!  I was thankful that my daughter was in a different class where the girls hadn’t formed such a tight clique.

The article describes a 5 year old being tormented, in part, because of her Payless shoes.  (I don’t even need to tell you where my 3 year olds sneakers were purchased!)  Now, my 5-year-old, since the first day of kindergarten, has been asking for Skechers.  She tells me all the girls in her class have them.  I tell her all the girls don’t have them.

Well, I got her class picture.  There were 6 girls seated in the front row…5 of them had those Skechers Twinkle Toes shoes on…one did not.  The one….my daughter!  I feel a little pained as I describe that. Do they tease her?  Does she feel ‘different’?

Sadly, the article describes the mean girls as the spawn of mean parents, parents who encourage and enable the behavior.  So it seems we as parents have some control over whether or not our children become bullies…but how do we help them from becoming victims?

I’m Tired

15 Oct

Ah, those evening hours when you crawl into bed and replenish your body and mind with rest, right?


Here’s why (last night):

7:45 pm — children put to bed

8:05 — little one beckons me for water

10:48 — twin girl stumbles out of her room half asleep announcing she still has a cold

10:59 — twin girl falls out of room again and declares she needs to go to the bathroom

12:17 a.m — husband drunk dials the landline (you know, the phone that rings throughout the house) to announce he is staying in Manhattan with his buddy to take care of him

1:36 — twin boy calls out from his room and demands I put on the bathroom light, yet he insists he does not need to actually use the bathroom

1:59 — twin boy calls out again and declares he is going to use the bathroom

5:30 — little one shouts out her bed is wet

5:34 — sheets changed

7:00 a.m. — boy standing by my bed breathing into my face asking for breakfast

2 cups of black tea, 1 venti chai tea latte, 1 women’s ultra mega active vitamin and 1 B12 sublingual later………………. I’m actually managing (really, do I even have a choice?)

But thank god it’s Friday…have a good one :)


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