Monday, June 10, 2013

The hustle and bustle of the end of another school year

While I am not a teacher in the traditional sense, I do feel the hustle and bustle of the end of the school year.  Getting the remaining work done, getting extra work done, administering gets hectic!  And the teachers are as ready to be done with the year as the students.  That's the time of year it is for me right now.  I finished up with one student yesterday and will finish with my other one the beginning of next week.  I do have to say that regardless, I really enjoy what I do and we are very lucky that I am able to work part time and make decent money while not having to use daycare.  Now, if you know me, then you know I don't have a problem with daycare.  There are people that don't want to stay at home with their kids, and they shouldn't.  You will be a much better parent if you are happy in what you are doing and if staying at home doesn't work for you, then go to work and use a daycare!  There are also parents out there that don't have a choice but to work full time. That's what they're there for, so please don't feel like I think working is the "wrong" thing to do.  I'll come back from my sidebar now.  :)

Because my schedule has been super tight, I've been making more casseroles and freezer meals.  But really, about all of my meals you can freeze right now because I'm not at home to cook in the evenings.  Richelle turned me onto so I've been trying some meals from there this week.  We had the Skinny Italian Spinach Meatballs at the beginning of the week.  Not my best effort.  If I had done everything as written I'm betting they would have been better.  I didn't think to thaw my spinach and was out of time, so I thawed it partially in the microwave then put it in the meat.  Didn't take any of the water out of it.  I also was out of parmesan cheese, so there was no cheese in them at all.  I probably didn't use enough garlic either because I was running low on it.  (This is what happens at the end of the school year!)  I also didn't buy anything special for this.  I used the bread I had on hand, which I believe is 1 point a slice. I (we) am (are) lucky in the fact that my parents buy their meat from a butcher in Bassett and they bring us meat when they visit, so we have really good meat.  I will tell you without hesitation that I am a meat snob.  My grandfather was a butcher and I refuse to buy meat in a typical grocery store.  I will buy it on occasion from Costco, and will buy from Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Fresh Market, but not the other big chain grocery stores.

Back to the menu.  I also made Chicken Divan, Lightened Up which Jefferson served with rice.  Again, I went with what I had.  For some reason I didn't make my grocery list very well even though I had the recipes in front of me.  While there's 5 of us, I didn't use 1 1/2 lbs of broccoli or 24 oz of chicken.  I used about a pound of chicken and about 12 oz of broccoli.  I cut the cheese in half and didn't put any on top simply because I only had sliced swiss.  Jefferson gets swiss on his sandwiches for work, so I almost always have light swiss slices.  I omitted the sherry because I'm too cheap to open a bottle of white wine for 2 oz and made chicken broth using Better than Bouillon, though I don't pay nearly that amount for it because I buy it at Costco.  I was totally out of parmesan still so I didn't use that either.  Regardless of the changes I made, it was really good.  There wasn't much left for me to eat when I got home. :)

Speaking of not much left, dinner from Wednesday night was a hit.  So much of one that Jefferson told me when I was on my way home to stop and get dinner because there wasn't any left for me.  Cheeseburger Casserole.  I didn't think that would be the best dinner ever, but apparently it is.  I added some more noodles because I thought it could use more and split it into two dishes for two meals.  Maybe I'll get some of the other one. :)

I did make a meal that was a blast from my past last weekend.  Its what we call Daddy Bob's Stuff, named after my grandfather.  The girls ate it like no other, so it will definitely be going into the rotation.

Daddy Bob's Stuff

1.  Peel, slice, and boil 3-4 good sized potatoes.
2.  Brown 1 lb ground chuck.
3.  Make a cream soup (I use this recipe.)
4.  Add about 1/2 C additional milk to thin the soup out a bit.
5.  Layer 1/2 the potatoes, 1/2 the meat, 1/2 the soup mixture, then repeat.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese then bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.

Really simple and really yummy.  Even Jefferson said he liked it this time, which he usually doesn't care for it.  I guess it really is the difference in cooking from scratch.

Until next time....

Monday, June 3, 2013

How I became a private school parent

I went to public school my entire life; chose a public college; became a public school teacher; still work for a public school system, just not in the traditional sense of a teacher.  Jefferson teaches public school.  Because of this I have had many people ask me why we chose private school for Dori (with our other children to follow).

There are many answers to that question and I always worry that I'm going to sound stuck up or make people think I believe I am better than they are.  By no means is that my intention.  The education she is getting is of the highest quality which by far is the main reason I am happy we chose St. Catherine's.

There were many roads that helped lead us to attend St. Catherine's and I cannot be happier after the first year.  When Dori was born, my mother-in-law was hell bent she was going to St. Catherine's and I dug my heels in.  I'm not sending my child to a school that you have to get on a waiting list five years in advance!  I went to public school, public school is fine for her!  Wow, did I ever eat my words.  I did go to public school, but not here.  I grew up in a small town and went to the best schools in the county.  Our children would not be going to the best schools in the county.  We don't live in those areas and can't move to those areas.  Don't get me wrong, from what I have been told the elementary school we are zoned for is a good school.  There are better, there are worse.  When it came time to start looking we decided to try and see what came of it.  After all of the testing, meetings, and other various activities, we decided to apply to St. Catherine's.  And to correct an earlier statement, we didn't go on a waiting list 5 years beforehand.  We did the normal application route beginning September-ish of the year before she was to start.

The education she is receiving is phenomenal.  I cannot say enough about her teachers and the school in general.  I really feel as though every teacher and staff member at the school has the students' best interests in mind and puts in the work they need to in order to help them achieve the best they can.  That's not to say teachers in the public schools don't, but there are some that don't.  After seeing everything teachers go through (and its worse now than it was when I was teaching) who can blame them?  They're beat down and not appreciated.  The way they have to teach, in preparation for the tests is ridiculous.  I could go on and on.  Until a bunch of people that make the laws but aren't teachers wake up, it won't change.  It's holding students back and I don't want my children held back because of a test.  I really didn't want to rely on chance at her getting a good teacher; better yet I didn't want to take the chance she didn't get a good teacher.  Not only that, with all that teachers put up with now, it makes me not want to even think about going back into the classroom in a few years when I go back to work.  I only ever wanted to be a teacher.  Where do I go from here now?  That is a totally different post however!

Most of the things that happen in her school could be implemented in a public school but probably won't be because of testing and a lack of funding, or rather it not being seen as important.

Her school year ended Friday.  She was sent home with four packs of work.  One pack for each of the three months with a schedule attached and one pack of handwriting practice.  A total of about 75 sheets of paper.  Jefferson could send home copies with 6 of his students with his paper allotment for the month.  

She has recess daily and two specials a day including PE, Spanish, dance, Chinese, music, art, library, and computer.  I know all of this can't be implemented in public schools, but some of it can, however its not seen as important in the development of children.  

Dori went into school not reading.  She knew her letters and her letter sounds, but wasn't reading.  I wasn't concerned either because I knew it would come and if I forced it she would hate it.  She is now reading at the end of 1st grade, beginning of 2nd grade level and loves it.

I could go on and on, but won't because I already feel as though this is choppy and all over the place.  Bottom line, public schools need to be revamped and teachers need to be allowed to teach.  You want to know why our students can't compete with students in other countries?  Because they don't know how to think, they know how to test and that wasn't good enough for our children if we could do anything else for them.

First Day of Kindergarten

Last Day of Kindergarten

Dori and Ms. Houston