Monday, January 31, 2011

Not a Winner...

This does not say much for my day but the best I can do as I sit at the keyboard with sagging eyelids is to say...

Today I learned about the results of our district/state tests.  Historically the jump from 5th grade to 6th grade has horrendous scores, I often am thankful to still be employed, but this year to my surprise the scores fared well.  What created this change? I'm sure it will be delved into and dug apart.  I'm still doing my job, loving it and working as hard as I always have.  Who knows maybe it was the Shakespeare...

I hate that so much emphasis is put on a bunch of data collected over a short period of time and it's allowed to form a picture of who a student is on paper but I sure am glad when the scores are on the up and up.  Does this make me hypocritical?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Derby Day

Today I learned if you put a bunch of cub scouts in a gym with a track and their amazingly crafted cars FUN  is to be had and lots of it!

The science behind racing small wooden derby cars is pretty specific and well beyond my brain.  Thanks to UTube and the internet my husband and son scoured to create the speediest car they could!

Today was our Pinewood Derby.  It was a great day of fun and good sportsmanship.   I am so proud of everyone! 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Rainbow of Vegetables

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?  Just bought these seeds today and I can't wait to see them!!

Have you ever grown these?  Or any other interesting and out of the ordinary veggies in your garden?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Whey or That?

Whey is the liquid left behind after you make cheese or strain your yogurt to make greek yogurt.  I really hate to throw things while making mozzarella this summer and straining yogurt to make yogurt cheese, I thought "What can I do with this??"

So I poked around and came up with a pretty good list:
  • Reincorporate all or some of the whey back into your yogurt.
  • Soak your grains or beans in it. Soaked grains (oatmeal, rice, quinoa) and beans take less time to cook, are easier to digest and allow our bodies to utilize more of the nutrients. Add 1-2T of whey and just enough water to cover your grains or beans. Soak overnight.
  • Use in place of water in just about any bread recipe or other baking.  
  • If you’re already making homemade yogurt, why not try homemade ricotta cheese. It’s made from leftover whey.
  • Season your whey with garlic or other spices and use it as a marinade for meat. This works especially well with frozen meats. The enzymes will help bring out the flavor.
  • Use in place of vinegar to pickle your vegetables.
  • Add it to your bath water for healthy, glowing skin. (Ummm....I'm not sure on this one!)
  • Use it to water your garden or compost pile. This is especially useful if you have a lot of whey to use up.
  • Drink it.  Add it to a smoothie for all the nutritional value minus the taste.
  • Feed it to your chickens, they LOVE it!
 Yahoo!  Another way to "recycle" and add a healthy ingredient to food for my family.  This learning thing sure is fun!  :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Greek vs. Regular

Are you a yogurt eater?  Today we were pondering the differences between greek yogurt and regular's some of what I found.

"Greek yogurt is thicker and richer than regular yogurt, and typically contains lower sugar, higher protein and higher amounts of probiotics."

"As far as bacteria are concerned, Greek yogurt can contain up to six strains of probiotics, while regular yogurt usually contains just two. These high levels aid in converting milk lactose into lactic acid, making it easier to digest, especially for those who are lactose intolerant."

" Yogurt is formed when a specific strain of bacteria is introduced in the milk in a controlled environment and is allowed to ferment. After fermentation, yogurt becomes thick and custard like in texture, with a very subtle tangy taste. Greek yogurt is also made in the same way, the only difference being that once the bacteria strain has been added to the milk, the mixture is allowed to rest in a cheesecloth that drains away the liquid whey. This draining of the excess liquid whey, makes the resultant yogurt very rich, creamy and thick, that makes it an excellent toppings for desserts. "

Greek yogurt is strained three times, as opposed to two times for regular yogurt."   Soooo "Greek yogurt has twice the protein content of regular yogurt

Because of this extra straining process, Greek yogurt has less calcium than regular yogurt.

So it seems that if you want to make Greek yogurt you should leave your regular yogurt, made at home or store bought, in some type of a strainer over night and VOILA!    Try yours with applesauce and a drizzle of honey...YUMMY!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fight for Air

Did you know that in 
41 floors 
there are 
82 flights of stairs 
which is 
789 steps?

Support my friend who is participating in the Fight for Air Climb in Boston on February 6th. It is put on by the American Lung Association to support research, education and advocacy to fight lung disease.

You can donate to her team online HERE.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Soak Your Oats!

This is much different than sew your oats thankfully.

I'm always looking for healthy and edible snacks to make for the kids in order to avoid as many things wrapped in plastic as possible. It's a slow process!

I found a website earlier this week with a cracker recipe and I continued to dig around her site since Cooper OK'd the recipe. She has several entries on the idea that one should soak any oats and grains before eating. I appreciate her look at the scientific side of healthy eating (while I appreciate her, I LOVE ALTON BROWN's approach!). Commitment to the idea of soaking your oats and grains has varying support around the internet. She states:

# Grains are seeds.
# Seeds are meant to pass through the system relatively undigested so they can be planted elsewhere (think in nature).
# To make it possible for seeds to pass through undigested, there are some anti-nutrients built in to make them difficult to digest.
# Seeds also need to be preserved until the time is right for sprouting, so they have certain compounds that stop the active enzyme activity of germination.
# These compounds also serve to hinder active enzyme activity in your digestive system.
# “Soaking” whole grains can make them more digestible and help your system obtain all the nutrients in the food.

This sounds good. I wonder if the thought and time it takes (one should soak their oats for 12-24 hours) is worth the benefit it gains.

Tonight I made her granola bar recipe, which she claims when made with soaked and dried oats are better tasting. So you know I'm soaking oats tonight and putting them on the dehydrator tomorrow for a baking fest after the kids go to bed tomorrow night! I'll let you know the results of the comparison...

While you wait, what whole snacks do you feed your kids? Anything that would entice my picky eaters and make my wallet happy?

Also feel free to check out Healthy Recipes at Kitchen Stewardship, she has a lot to offer!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Today I revisited some old learnings:
How to get to the local hospital
Where my son's insurance card is hidden
How to calm a kid who is terrified of shots even though he's not getting one
How to run our nebulizer from 3 years ago
How to be nice to the swamped pharmacist when he tells me it will be several hours for the new nebulizer meds to be filled (even though it's sitting right there on the shelf)

And one new one:
If I say it really nice but with a harried eyeball, my husband really can put the dishes away!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

love those little plastic bricks!

Lego means "play well". I'm going to remind my kids of this often. Here's a little Lego history for you from!

from Danish
This word originated in Denmark
Thanks to those little interlocking building blocks, the whole world plays with the Danish language. They are playing with Lego, a name constructed out of the Danish expression leg godt, meaning "play well."
The company's historians tell us exactly when it happened. In 1932 Ole Kirk Christiansen began manufacturing ironing boards, stepladders, and wooden toys in the town of Billund, Denmark. Two years later, when his company had grown to have half a dozen employees, he gave it the name Lego. It was noticed later that lego means "I study" or "I read" in Latin, but play remained the official interpretation of the company name.
For nearly two decades after that, Lego remained a Danish company, with no effect on English-speaking children or their language. Even in Denmark, Lego was not registered as a trademark until 1954. But in 1956 the company began opening sales offices in other countries; in 1958 the stable stud-and-tube style of brick was introduced; and within a decade children the world over knew the name. From then till now, according to the company, about 190 billion Lego bricks (they call them "elements") have been produced, as well as 11 billion of the Duplo double-size bricks. That's enough for everyone in the world to play well.
Danish is a North Germanic language of the Indo-European family and the national language of the more than five million inhabitants of Denmark. Along with Norwegian and Swedish, Danish is a likely source for such English words as skulk (1225), scoff (1300), ballast (1530), dangle (1590), skoal (1600), troll (1616), walrus (1728), iceberg (1820), and aquavit (1890). Other Danish contributions to English have been from Danes whose names have become scientific designations: Jacobson's organ (in the head, 1885), Gram's stain (for bacteria, 1903), and the Bohr effect (from carbon dioxide in the blood, 1939).

The World in So Many Words, by Allan A. Metcalf. Copyright © 1999 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


***Edit on 1/22/11
Another friend shared an article in response to the original parenting article. There are two sides to every story. There's a lesson! Thanks Kim!
Ever have that moment where you think, "What have I done wrong?". "How will this choice effect the future of this kid I'm raising?" "If only I'd done that instead..."

A friend shared an interesting Wall Street Journal article on the differences between Western parenting and Chinese parenting. Interesting...

I just read it and I keep thinking I must have a thought about worth writing about. Nope, not yet.

What about you?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cabin Fever?

My cat has cabin fever already...I'd like to see her on snowshoes! :)


"Cabin fever, while not an actual disease as the name suggests, is a state of restlessness, depression and irritability brought on by an extended stay in a confined space or a remote, isolated area. The lack of environmental stimulation can have real, tangible side effects that have a detrimental impact on anyone suffering from cabin fever. There is little documented evidence, but many speculate that those who may already be mentally unbalanced can be dramatically affected by cabin fever.

Historians speculate that the term cabin fever was first used to describe early U.S. settlers who experienced long winters in their log cabins, snowed in until the spring thaw. The term is dated to the 19th century by the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms and is first recorded in 1918, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. Suffering from cabin fever is similar to going stir crazy, a term that originates from a mid-19th century slang term, stir, which meant "prison". Stir crazy was typically used to describe the behavior exhibited by inmates in prison suffering from the effects of a long incarceration.

The origins of the term may also date from the time of frequent oceanic crossings, when people endured the long passage across the Atlantic in small, cramped quarters below the deck of a ship. In addition, during outbreaks of disease, people were often confined or quarantined to their homes in the effort to prevent its spread. Cabin fever would have surely been a result in either of these situations.

Cabin fever is such a universal affliction that movies and books have dramatized its sometimes horrifying effect on people and their mental state. Stephen King’s The Shining is a perfect example of how isolation can drive a person mad. The family in the film is holed up in a remote hotel resort, snowed in until spring. Add isolation, lack of entertainment and a supernatural presence, and madness ensues. Other story plots have explored how extended space missions can cause cabin fever, and the theme has also been dealt with in a recent storyline on The Simpsons television show.

In areas of the world where snow piles up all winter long, driving people indoors, cabin fever is a real issue. In addition to long periods of time confined to a small space, the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) exacerbate cabin fever. Many people suffer from SAD during the winter months, when sunny days are few and far between, and they sink into a very real depression.

Those especially susceptible to cabin fever are children who are confined to the house during rain or cold weather. Also, stay-at-home moms have long bemoaned the cabin fever they suffer from when confined to the house without adult interaction. Passive entertainment from television and video games may pass the time, but don’t provide the active, interactive entertainment that people crave.

Reading, board games and card games may help, but getting outdoors and engaging in physical activity may be the only real “cure.” Many people who live in the northern U.S. cross-country ski, snowshoe or snowmobile as outdoor activities. Calling a friend, or simply trying to get a change of scenery, may help as well.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Homemade Crackers

I tried out this new recipe for homemade crackers today, it's a keeper!

They're like Wheat Thins, and even Cooper ate them happily. YUM!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Word!

Define "mores".

Heard it in a workshop...didn't know it. Now I do!

How would you use it?

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Today I have a cold, just like yesterday and the day before that.

I chugged through the day saying "It sounds worse that I feel...".
However my head was not in the game..the long division game, the how to read a text book game, the how to read non fiction game, the how to write persuasively game, the cub scout how to eat according to that triangle/pyramid thing game, the basketball yes I said I'd help but can't get out of my own way game.

Today I learned I've got no game.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Got Salt?

I have been known to wing most things in life.. In the classroom, on a vacation, and in the kitchen. This surely makes chefs and cooks quiver but its just the way I roll. I rarely follow a recipe in it's entirety: I don't have all of the ingredients, I wish one ingredient wasn't get it.

Salt is one of those ingredients I often leave out. Too much sodium is bad for you, right? Well thanks to another snow day baker I am reformed! Who knew salt had a serious job? Apparently in the case of baked bread it slows the fermentation process so things don't get too wild in your dough, it strengthens the gluten(who wants to eat weak gluten?), and of course it adds flavor. Hmmm. I guess I'd better go refill my salt shaker while you read this link. Happy baking.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day Rituals

I have been living with my head in the sand. Or the snow as the case may be...I have been teaching for 12 years and never, until today, have I heard the special combination of events that assures a snow day.

The night before an impending storm:

1. Turn your pajamas inside out.
2. Put a spoon under your pillow.
3. Flush ice down the toilet.

Apparently practiced by school children and lunch ladies through eternity, it's sure to work.

Sorry if you wake up with a wooden spoon in your face, Shawn!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cold season Remedy?

Cough Cough...tried this recipe as someone at work swears that her husband's version works every time.

Cough cough...

Maybe I need him to make mine. (but I learned something new!!)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

Over the holiday break I treated myself to a yogurt maker. My sister gave me a gift certificate to King Arthur Flour a few years ago and I found it while cleaning...whoops. I decided to buy something I would never otherwise have purchased. Thus the yogurt maker. I am surprised at how simple the process of making yogurt is.

What are the benefits of making yogurt yourself? Can it save me money? Is it healthier even though I'm buying milk from some enormous farm feeding their cows whatever? Are we creating less waste?

The handy maker that I bought is not even sort of necessary to create a delicious batch of yogurt in your kitchen according to the research I've done. It's just a fun kitchen gadget that makes me happy. You can make yogurt in your crock pot, on your heating pad, I even found a site that talked about just leaving it out in the sun (my thoughts are don't try this one, but you are all grownups...)

I'll be saving up the whey created to add to bread and trying out some yogurt cheese recipes I've found too. So much fun in my kitchen!

Here's a basic recipe...(you really should Google around though, it's fun!)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Life Changing Challenge

Today I went online looking for a few ways to get myself leaning in a healthier direction (maybe I'll even take a few steps in that direction eventually...). That clever Martha Stewart and her team of clever people have a plan for a 28-day challenge to a healthier you.

I've often tossed around the idea of doing some kind of detox but they are confusing to me in the 8 seconds of thought I give them. I like the idea of this one telling you week by week what to eat or what not to eat as the case may be. I'm considering it...what do you think? I've already emailed my adventurous neighbor to see if she'll join me. Anyone else want to give it a go?

Minty Mice

Friday I learned that pure peppermint oil will discourage mice from running around in your walls. I wonder if it discourages them from running around in your living room too?

Either way I'm planning to plant peppermint plants around the entire perimeter of my house and I'm considering installing gutters to plant them in too. I'll let you know!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Manly issues

Today I learned how to tie a neck tie!

I spent the day tying it and retying it around...the school principal claimed to think it was some kind of new fashion trend. Imagine anyone using my name and fashion trend in the same sentence? Clearly he doesn't know me well!

Then I spent the evening with my Cub Scout den learning all about how to tie different knots. So cool, the boys were very excited and did an amazing job with all of the tasks. They were as proud as I was.

How many knots can you tie?


Last night I learned that I was exhausted. I laid down to read to the kids and woke to my son saying "Mom, you didn't finish." I never recovered...sorry.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Before Rosa Parks...

Do you know the story of Rosa Parks? The woman who, in December of 1955, refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama?

Most people know it...

But did you know that 11 years earlier in Gloucester, Virginia, Irene Morgan set her foot down against such unfair treatment too? She also refused to give up her seat, was arrested, and fined. See more in this Washington Post article.

In June of 1954, Sarah Mae Flemming of Columbia, South Carolina, refused to stand on her bus as directed by the driver.

Did you know that in early March of 1955 a young woman named Claudette Clovin found herself refusing to give up the seat she paid for on a bus in Alabama?

In October of 1955, Mary Louise Smith failed to obey transportation segregation laws while riding on the Montgomery Transportation System.

So many strong women standing up for what they believed in. They should be an inspiration for all of us. What will you stand up for?

Monday, January 3, 2011


Back to work today...I love my job for many reasons.
the kids
the creativity (most of the time)
the adventure
the learning

I like the idea that we get to regularly reflect on what we do and make it better. There's always next year, right? However this idea is also a great frustration of mine. Surrounded by different humans, in different situations, on each different day, different hour, different minute...whatever worked may not work again. I strive to be better. To give each learner what the need, what they want, to be successful.

This link is to a video that perhaps did not teach me anything new, but it gave me a lot to think about when considering the state of education in 2011. What can you do to enhance a child's learning?

Sunday, January 2, 2011


So, I'm already behind. Not a stellar start if I do say so myself.

While wandering through a gun shop one recent afternoon (this sounds so casual, doesn't it??) I overheard a clerk telling a customer about groundhogs being cannibalistic. "Once you shoot them, the others pull 'em down into the hole...that's after the crows get 'em..." Here he was selling the two for one feature of shooting them, first you get rid of the groundhog, then the crows! He laughed heartily.

"Seriously?" I thought.

Being somewhat naive, I assumed he was right (he does work in a gun shop after all) and planned to post it as my learning for the day. Then my ever analytical husband said, "Don't you think you should find some facts to back that up?"

Well folks, I've searched for a bit and can't find anything to back up that gun shop employee. Now, I'm not saying he's a liar, I'm just saying I couldn't find any evidence on the internet in a 10 minute search.

I'm a fan of how scientists and mathematicians organize and categorize everything so I did learn that cannibalism is categorized. Here are a few ways...
*Those who eat each smaller members of themselves (size structured cannibalism)
*Females who eat their male partners before, during, or after you know what (sexual cannibalism)
*Unborn baby carnivores who eat smaller, less developed, and also unborn siblings (intrauterine cannibalism)

Again this was found in a brief internet search... and perhaps is a bit creepy for a first entry but it caught my ear and has stuck with me for a few days.

Learned something new today!