… little bit of this, little bit of that, a whole lotta about the kids

so called “Greek Relish”

Yesterday I made a tasty (ugly looking, so no pictures!) “relish” to go with our baked chicken thighs.  e-meals calls it “Greek Relish”; I don’t think it seemed particularly Greek.  No lemon, no oregano, no feta cheese, no thyme.  Below is the recipe as presented.  It was intended to be served over deli roast chicken, sliced in the menu they provided.

“Greek Relish”

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 (12-oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 (7-oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped

1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives

 

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat; add onion. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until tender; stir in tomatoes, artichokes, bell peppers and olives.

I ended up leaving the onion raw; purple onion is already so mild and the crunch was nice since everything else is pretty soft.  I added some fresh chopped oregano, thyme and mint as well as a couple cloves of garlic, put through the press so there wouldn’t be any chunks, and then I squeezed in some lemon juice.

With my changes, it’s about 6 servings at a generous half cup per serving:  95 calories, 6g fat, 3g fiber, 3g sugar.

Round and round I go

I am back in full  time to get healthy for real mode.  After years of being “insulin-resistant” or “pre-diabetic” which comes with the PCOS, my sugars started climbing a year ago.  First I was just barely in the diabetic range, the next test was higher, and my most recent was really alarming.  I needed to make a lot of changes; I don’t want to end up needing insulin, and so this time I gotta make the changes stick. I’ve started out slowly, adding in new goals as I conquer the one before. I started out with meal planning, getting back in the groove, and cooking again; we were eating out an awful lot.  I was SO tired, which is likely a result from the really high sugars, it was so hard to get up and cook.  I ended up using a groupon for a subscription to emeals at a massively reduced price.  I am not able to really use it as intended to make my life super simple.  They give you a weeks worth of menus (and you have lots of different types of menus to choose from) along with the shopping lists and lists of staples they presume you have, and so on.  But in the clean eating plan I’ve been using, there hasn’t been a whole week where my family would actually eat every meal.  Still, I print them out each week and pick and choose and merge them with some family favorites, so it has made meal planning somewhat less challenging.  I tend to get overwhelmed with my collection of recipes otherwise. After that, I started logging my food.  I’ve been using My Fitness Pal  for that (the iPhone app is great, it lets you scan UPC codes, makes it very easy for things with UPC codes =)). I gave up Pepsi again, and along with that, anything with simple processed sugars, for the most part.    This is STILL hard.  I swear, I felt like I was going through the 5 stages of grieving.  Over Pepsi! Then I added exercise.  I wouldn’t say that I have conquered that entirely.  I am mostly using my treadmill, because it’s what I have in  my home.  I find it hard to walk much longer than 25-30 minutes, not because my energy gives out, or my legs are sore, or my motivation lags, but because my lower back starts to really hurt.  But I am still exercising, the best that I can. Right now I am working towards “clean eating” which is a phrase that I suppose is over-used and thrown around a lot these days.  To me clean eating is eating the best and healthiest options from the food groups, in as natural of a state (before I cook it) as possible. I (want to) choose whole, natural foods and seek to eliminate or minimize refined foods. Processed foods are anything in a box, bag, can, or package, but unrefined foods can also be found in packaging. I am willing to buy packaged foods as long as they have few ingredients, and those ingredients are basically whole, natural foods.  I am fine with unrefined / natural sugars, such as honey and (real) maple syrup, at least for those in my family; I am avoiding sweeteners as much as possible, or using them in a minimal way. When you have been heavy (lets just say it, fat, fat, fat!) for so long and made changes and lost and gained and lost and gained, its hard to pin point what my starting weight is.  I decided to go with my highest most recent weight, which is 30 pounds down from my heaviest, but I’d maintained that loss a long time.   My lap band has been gone for 15 months; so it’s all on me.

Leprechaun Penny & String Trick

Mrs. Snodgrass, my sons third grade teacher, is amazing. She’s a wonderful person, as well as an inspiring teacher. Although my son is now in 4th grade, I still volunteer in her classroom every week. I am devastated that she retires this year and Laurel will never have the chance to experience Mrs. Snodgrass’ classroom.  I could go on for paragraphs about her, but ATM I am posting from my phone and will refrain as typing is a pain ;)

This is a St. Patricks day activity she does with her 3rd graders.

You’ll need:

A leprechaun template, ours is about 8-9″ tall and 4-5″ wide

Thin cardboard

Hole Punch

Glue stick

Scissors

Long piece of yarn, ours is about 4-5′ long

3″ piece masking tape

A penny

Crayons, Markers or colored pencils to decorate your leprechaun

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Have your child color the leprechaun as desired. Glue to a thin piece if cardboard or stuff paper such as a file folder or heavy card stock. Cut away excess cardboard. (You could print the leprechaun directly onto the heavy cardstock if desired).

Punch a hole on each side of the leprechaun, about midway, making sure the holes are directly across from each other. Punch a third hole at the bottom of the leprechaun, in the center.

Now fold your string in half; one side is the “looped” end, the other is the “strings” end.

Push the looped end through one side hole from the decorated side to the back side.

Pass it across the back of the leprechaun and push it up through the other side hole.

Thread the strings side through the looped end.

Pass the strings end through the bottom hole.

Tape the penny to the strings end, securing both ends to the penny so the string is now basically a complete loop with the penny attached.

The challenge to your child — can you find the leprechauns trick and remove the string from the leprechaun, keeping both string and leprechaun intact? No scissors, tearing, or removing the penny!

Research needed!

Hmm, I’ve just noticed that this new theme posts dates in European format, day, month, year instead of month, day, year.  And the only settings I can find are set the other way around.  I also would like to change my header graphic so the sun is smiling.  I edited it on another blog I do with this theme, and yet can not for the life of me figure out how to do that again either. ;)

Handwriting with Tears

My daughter does not like to write.  Or color.  Or do anything that really works her hands in a way to prepare her for writing in kindergarten.  Oh, she will use markers occasionally, probably because they are so much easier to make marks with than pencil or crayons, but even that is a struggle.  It’s not really a fine motor issue; she can handle other fine motor tasks just fine.  Caterpillar Scramble, given to us by Aunt Julie several years back when I was working with Kidlets fine motor issues (now due to the Asperger’s though at the time, we didn’t know that!), is no sweat for Lil L.  She can thread pony beads endlessly.  And so on.  But still doesn’t want to color at a restaurant, or balks at writing anything at home.

So, I have been coming up with ways to encourage her to use those muscles and build her writing endurance, without it seeming to be work.  She asked for corn on the cob for dinner, for instance, so I had her write it on the shopping list.  She likes to make up stories, so I made some mini books to record them; she does like to see her stories in book form so she can show them off to folks.  I also try to instigate art projects that will encourage her to need to pick up a crayon or pencil.

It hasn’t seemed to make any difference yet, but we’ll keep working on it.

Last night we were working with sharpies on foil, some form of which you’ve probably seen. It’s all over Pinterest in various forms.

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Devious as she is, Lil L even managed to bypass holding the sharpie after a couple of triangles, instead using paintbrush and fingers to add glitter glue to the foil.  My girl, she loves herself some bling ;)

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Braids

From the number of “hair” boards that I have to unfollow on Pinterest, its apparently a great area of concern for a lot of folks. Fine, i get that – not everyone is as unconcerned with it as I am. But what I don’t understand are the styles pinned. Am I the only person in the world that thinks fishtail braids are hideous?  The only on that thinks creating a heart shape with hair is weird?  The sole person that thinks asymmetrical hair styles makes people look lopsided and like they will fall to one side?  Apparently so ;)

Lego night

Our PTA lego night last night was a success!  We had 230-250 attendees, which is the biggest turnout ever for our small school of about 320 students in 250 families.  Besides a boatload of Legos for free play, Little Engineers came with a few stations with robots, etc. We offered substantial refreshments for working families that might not have time to have dinner first, and drawings for lego sets.

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This is the gallery of mini-fig designs submitted by some of our students. :)

Art Lit: Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko is an abstract expressionist, specifically known as the pioneer of color field painting.  He was chosen to represent abstract expressionists for our lesson because he spent a number of years here in Portland, OR, and some of his work is on display in the Portland Art Museum.

rothko

I had the classes of 4th graders choose a random emotion from a sack, and then write a line or two about what the emotion feels like.  Then they had to choose colors to represent the emotion and feeling.  We used bleeding art tissue paper on watercolor paper, and a tiny bit of water with foam brushes.

The colors aren’t as vibrant as they would be with paints, nor could we really work with shades and tints which I would have liked to do, but our fourth grade classrooms do not have any sinks and using actual paints in those rooms is a real challenge (I brought water in a pitcher with little Dixie cups to wet the tissue paper).  I’ve had to improvise with chalks, and pastels and now the tissue paper, even when other grades are using paint.

This was a challenging lesson for these 9-10 year olds.  The concrete operational stage of development from 7-11 or so is a period where children begin thinking logically about concrete events, but have difficulty understanding abstract or hypothetical concepts.

Still, the kids did seem to enjoy the art project, and the teachers both seemed pleased with the lesson and the students response to it.

Avocados

Creamy, luscious avocados are such a rich source of vitamins, minerals, healthful fats, and phytochemicals that the U.S. government has revised its nutrition guidelines to urge Americans to eat more of them.

 what’s in it

beta-sitosterol: This compound may block cholesterol absorption as well as reduce discomfort of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). It is also under review for the potential to prevent breast cancer.

fiber: The fiber content of avocados is high (one avocado provides 34% of the Daily Value for dietary fiber), which is good news since soluble fiber removes excess cholesterol from your body, and insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation by keeping your digestive system running smoothly.

folate: Avocados are good sources of folate (one avocado provides 57mcg, or 28% of the Daily Value). This important B vitamin is linked to the prevention of neural-tube defects in fetuses as well as prevention of cancer and heart disease in adults.

glutathione: Functioning as an antioxidant, this compound may neutralize free radicals that damage cells.

magnesium :This mineral may help to reduce discomfort associated with premenstrual syndrome, migraines, anxiety, and other disorders.

oleic acid: A type of monounsaturated fat in avocados, oleic acid has been linked to lower cholesterol levels when substituted for saturated fat in the diet.  

maximizing the benefits  

Avocado flesh turns brown rapidly, so it is a good idea to sprinkle it with lemon or lime juice to prevent discoloration. 

add more to your diet

Make a salad dressing: Puree avocado with plain nonfat yogurt, lime juice, or vinegar to taste, salt, and hot sauce, if you like. 

Make an avocado smoothie: In a blender, puree avocado, milk, a touch of sweetener, and a couple of ice cubes. 

Mash avocado with lime juice and use as a spread on chicken sandwiches. 

Try avocado for dessert: Drizzle cubes of avocado with honey and top with a sprinkling of nuts. 

Mash avocado with a little salt (and perhaps some mustard) and use in place of mayonnaise in a tuna or chicken salad. 

health bites

Some people tend to avoid avocados because they regard them as high in fat. Avocados are indeed high in beneficial monounsaturated fat, which—when substituted for saturated fat in the diet—helps to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and the risk for heart disease.

Little Miss Perfect?

Little LE is exactly one month away from turning 4.   I am convinced that she is gifted.  In its own way, its as challenging raising my little LE as it is raising a child with Asperger’s.  Right now, I am faced with the challenge of perfectionism.  Her brain processing power is ahead of her fine motor skills.  She knows the way she wants something to look, the way it “should” look.  When she is unable to match it in reality, she gets very upset.  Temper tantrum, scribbling all over her art / note, crying upset. She is heart-breakingly hard on herself.

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Moments after drawing this person, she drew a big X from corner to corner to corner because “her stripes and dot dress is wrong”.  At her age, the “average” kid is still making “tadpoles”, with legs sprouting from the head.  The emergence of a torso is a 5-6 year old skill, with making the trunk longer than it is wide an even later milestone.  I’m just amazed at her precocious ability (she scores around 6 years, 3 months on the Goodenough Draw a Person Test), and she is freaking out and destroying it because its “wrong”.

It does no good to tell her that it is all right, or that it is perfect just the way it is.  She *knows* it isn’t (in her mind), and she just gets more upset.   We’ve read Beautiful Oops more than a few times.  In moments of calm “rationality”, we’ll talk about art, and how there really are no mistakes in art.  How she is only three and she is still learning to use her hands, and it’s ok if the 2 points of a “w” don’t line up exactly right now (or whatever). I’ve tried to model making mistakes and different coping skills.  I try to acknowledge the work that went into something, rather than just praising the result.  I’m not entirely sure what else to do.