Friday, August 30, 2013

What's For Lunch: Week 2

Well, the second week of school is behind us! The Short Chic continue's to think school is "Ggggrrreat!"

This week's theme for school lunch, if there is one, was cutouts. We pulled out our cookie cutters and got busy!

So, here is what we had for lunch this past week and a half.

Week 2, Day 1: Turkey, Cheese and Lettuce Sandwich with Cherry Tomato, orange slices, pretzels. 

Week 2, Day 2: Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Banana Sandwich, Berries, Pretzels with a Cinderella Shoe and Ranch Dressing

Week 2, Day 3: Pizza Quesadilla's, cucumbers shaped like flowers, mandarin orange slices and cookies.

Week 2, Day 4: Ham and Cheese cutout Hearts, over-sized Wheat Thins, Kiwi Fruit, and a Brownie

Week 2, Day 5:  Butter and Cheese Flower Sandwich, Carrots, Apple Slices, and Trail Mix

Daddy actually made this meal. I was out of town doing my Keynote Presentation. He did not do too bad, huh!

I guess when I look at the week in review, I would say The Short Chic is drawn to flower shapes.

Well, What did you have for lunch this week?

Speaking In Public: CHECK!

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking.

An estimated 75% of all people have some type of anxiety or fear of public speaking.

In high school or even college, I thought I had glossophobia! Speaking in front of my own class was a nerve-wracking experience. Once, I had entertained the idea of competing in a speech contest. I wrote, I planned, and in the end I pulled out because of the idea of speaking in front of other people. My high school English teacher and Home Economics teacher both were very angry with me.  Probably more disappointed. But either way, I knew they were not happy with my decision.

Then I grew up. Once I was asked a public question in a wedding. I had to give the preacher good reason the bride and groom should be married. I have no idea what I said, but I do know that what I said was barely coherent because I was so nervous!

Then I became a trainer. As a trainer it became my job to address people. Mostly small groups but I have done the occasional introduction for a large group. I found those to be a little stressful. My comfort level is differently in the smaller group. My comfort level grew. My confidence soared. Until...

Back in November a work friend of mine called me. She asked me for a favor. I said yes before she even asked me {that is how I was raised} to be involved in a statewide alternative care {foster care} conference. She then asked me to do a break-out session and part of the keynote. The break-out session I was not worried about at all. But a keynote! WOW! And as if the anxiety of that was not big enough, she then explained she and the planning committee wanted me to follow a well known young man from our area who has decided to publicly share his story.

So, yes, I had committed myself to doing a large {300+} keynote address following a speaker whose message is powerful and overwhelmingly sad.

The conference was this past Monday. As I did my last minute preparations the weekend before, a sort of calm came over me. I realized despite the attendance numbers {nearly 350 people} it was just a training and I have done several hundred training's.  I even decided to put my waterproof mascara on and experience Nathan Ross' story firsthand. I am so glad that I did! This young man has seen a world of hurt and then went into a complicated system afterwards. Thankfully he was adopted by a loving, "never-give-up" family. If you have the opportunity to hear him speak or later read his book, I encourage you to do so!

 I wore a microphone. I controlled my speed. I made a few jokes. I made a few good points. Hopefully I taught some new things. In the end, I did it!  And I did it as well as I knew how. I have yet to see the training evaluations, but I know that I did well. I know that I could not have done anything differently. Afterwards, I had no idea the amount of people that would congratulate me. It was so nice to hear from people after the presentation. So many approached and offered praises. It was a complete shot of self esteem!

I do have some thank you's. First I need to thank my friend Jeanne and Kay. They both were part of the planning committee and saw something in me that knew I would be able to do this.  Second, to my staff at work. They listened to me fret. They addressed my fears. They even read almost every single version of the presentation that I made. To my husband and my friend Angie: they also listened to me a lot! To my Momma Liz, she is so supportive of me and provides me with critical feedback that I do not always want to hear but that I always need to hear.

Thanks to my family. They hate it when I am away but they allow me to be away. When I said yes to this project, it never occurred to me that it was happening on my husband's birthday. Worse yet, his birthday was on the second day of presenting and I spoke to him three times before I wished him a happy birthday. Sorry honey, I owe you big time!

And lastly to my two best friends. Meeghan came through for me with a text book when mine got accidentally sent to the good will store. She listened to me whine about my insecurities for months!  Oh then Tracy!

Tracy remembers things from the moment I told her about it, she remembered. She immediately put it on a calendar or recorded it in her photosensitive memory. Either way, she was there. She arranged her day and met me at the conference. She kept me sane. She kept providing me with pep talks. And she even brought me protein bars because she knew I would be too nervous to eat lunch. She also was the first person to I presented my presentation to and with her super "wired-so-differently-than-me" brain she offered the first bits of real constructive feedback that forced me to think outside my box and make a better presentation.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What's For Lunch: Week 1

My Short Chic has started Kindergarten and insists on taking her own lunch. This decision is okay with me for a couple of reasons:

1.  I know exactly what is in her lunch.
2. Since she has not figured out how to lie to me yet, I know exactly what she is eating too!
3. Our school district assigns every child a 6 digit number and she would have to learn it and "key it" in every day at lunch. This slows up the lines and gives her less time to eat. {Have I ever told you all she is a talker and needs time to complete task?}
4. I purchased her a super cute Thirty-One thermal tote last year and I love watching her use it.
5. And the final reason I love making her is just another creative outlet for me.

So, here is my new series, What's For Lunch. Each week, I am going to share with you The Short Chic's school lunches.

Week 1: Day 1: Ants on a log, yogurt, berries.

She loved this meal. Although I made two errors. First, I did not think through that she has not yet figured out how to open gogurts by herself. Second, I packed her a fork and spoon to eat her berries with. She informed me that she is no longer a baby and I can not pack her toddler forks and spoons. She refused to eat the berries because she did not want the kids at school to call her a baby because of her utensils.

Week 1: Day 2:  Homemade Uncrustable Sandwich, Trail Mix, Red and Green Grapes, Carrots

I found a sandwich maker on Amazon and have been so glad that I purchased this simple less than $5.00 tool. The Short Chic ate every bit of this meal!

Week 1: Day 3: Homemade Pumpkin Muffin, Yogurt, Red and Green Grapes, Carrots, and a Strawberry

I found these muffins on another blog. They are 2 ingredient muffins. You use a box of yellow cake mix and a can of pumpkin. Mix them together and bake. The Short Chic loved helping make them. We added chopped nuts because we are nuts about nuts!  For this meal, I took the Gogurt out of the package. Kinda defeats the whole concept, don't cha think?

Week 1: Day 4: Turkey/Pretzel Skewers, Laughing Cow Cheese, Cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and berries

I am not sure why, maybe because she chats too much, or she was not hungry, or because she is five and that is how they do things but today The Short Chic decided she no longer likes Turkey or Cucumbers. Even though she just begged for them last week. What's a mom to do? Yep, try again!

Week 1: Day 5: Salad on a Stick, Celery, Carrots, Ranch Dressing, Red and Green Grapes, and Sandwich Cookies

Does your child love ranch dressing as much as mine? Salad on a Stick is a dippers paradise! Salad on a stick? Yes. It is actually easy. You just skewer those salad fixing your kids like. I gave mine those cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and mozzarella cheese. The carrots and the celery were more difficult to skewer so I just put them on the side. Funny, the only thing she did not eat, the cucumbers and the cookies. Maybe next time I will peel the cucumbers.

There you have it, a week of school lunches. Is your school child taking their lunch? Let me know what you are serving for lunch!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Our Transition to Kindergarten

It was a big week at our home; our Short Chic started Kindergarten.

We knew this day was coming and we recognized that we had some things to get ready for. The Short Chic has never had any type of schedule. We have been fortunate enough that my in-laws took care of her, so she never had to be up at any given schedule. Since she never had to be up at a certain time, we never put her to bed at a designated time. We would wake her up right as we were ready to walk out the door in the morning but often she left home without breakfast, without her hair being combed, or even dressed for the day. If she wanted to wear her pajamas all day long, that is what she wore.

I should also confess that The Short Chic also still slept in bed with us. She has been a third bed partner for years. The Husband and I both kinda liked having her close by. The number one reason we kept her close to us was it gave my husband and I more quality sleep. We did not have to get up and down in the middle of the night. If she woke up, she reached out, found us and immediately went right back to sleep. If you feel the need to judge, go ahead. Yes, we have had a family bed for the past five years.

But then she got big. Our quality of sleep went down. She elbowed us in the middle of the night; kicked us all night long, and just generally took up more room than I wanted with all of her stuffed animals and dolls.

So, with school approaching, we sat down and had a family meeting. We set a bedtime for the first time ever. We established a morning routine that would be necessary with school.  We opted for a 9 p.m. bedtime, an 8:30 bath time with one book being read before bed. We thought we would start at 9 and see how tired she was in the morning and adjust from there. {And when I say we I mean all of us. The Short Chic had just as much say as the rest of us in her new schedule.}The biggest decision we made was transition her out of our bed and into her own bed.

This is not the first time we have made such a decision. We went from a baby room to little girls dream room two years ago in an attempt to entice her into her own room. Last year we got her dream light after she promised she would sleep in her own bed. Each previous attempt last a few days...maybe a week..and then we would lower our guard, cave into her cuteness and let her back in bed with us.

 It has been three weeks since we had our family meeting. Three weeks of following our plan. We quickly found that even if she fought us to take a bath, once she got into the bath she did not want to get out. So we moved bath time up till 8:00. Establishing the morning routine was actually pretty easy. Once she was awake, I kept asking her: what do you need to do? She would answer, “Get Dressed, Brush My Hair, Have Breakfast, Brush my Teeth.” The hardest part, you already know what I am going to say don’t you, was the sleeping.

For the first week, she would wake up at 3:00 a.m. or 4:30 a.m, or 5:00 a.m. just to get out of bed and tell me that she loved me. I would force myself out of bed, walk her to her bed, put her back in it, and hope she would stay there. She often did not. The Husband also struggled. He would walk her back to bed and lay down with her in her bed.

So, we had another meeting {The Husband and I had a private meeting!}. To the Short Chic I explained that I knew she loves me. I reminded her that I love her too. Then we sat some tough boundaries. We do not need to say “I love you” in the middle of the night. We sat parameters around what she could get up out of bed for: 1) if she was sick or hurt, 2) to go to the bathroom, which she did not need to wake me for. I also put an alarm clock in her room. Even though she does not understand time, she knows that 5 is bigger than 4 and that 6 comes after 5. With the alarm clock I gave her a time frame. She had my permission to come and wake me once the clock said 7.

It was the best thing ever! She began sleeping all night, uninterrupted in her own bed. Three weeks later, school has started and we are following our new schedule like we have been doing it for years.

I had a moment of weakness this past week. We all took one last minute vacation before school started. The Boy went with us and The Short Chic went with her Nana and Papa. I missed her so much and so wanted to give her permission to crawl into bed and just cuddle for one night. But I did not. I made it through my weak moment and we are stronger because of it!

Helping toddlers, or any child, requires some planning. You do not have to have a family meeting but you do need to think through all the details.

  1. Have a plan. Better yet; have a back up plan, too! Think through all the potential pitfalls and address them, before they happen. 
  2. Be clear. Remember you are talking to little people. Keep it simple, but also remember they are brighter than you might believe. 
  3. Set forth expectations. Children can't read your mind if you expect something of them, make it known. 
  4. Be firm. One of my favorite Mommy roles is the nurturing. But children need more than nurturing to thrive. Sometimes they need to be able to recognize a boundary. Please notice I said to be Firm and not stringent. Teaching new behaviors is stressful and stress often leads to moments of frustration. Just take it slow; be firm but know that all forward progress is good.
  5. Be flexible. If it is not working there is no need to cause grief for yourself or your children. Find a new solution. 
  6. Be consistent. This is one of the hardest part of parenting.  If you only do it half the time then you can expect your children will only do it half the time too. If my Husband and I had been consistent maybe one of our other 99 attempts to transition her to her own bed would have been successful.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Curry Chicken Salad

A few weeks ago I went to lunch with my coworkers to one of my favorite places in Kansas City. The restaurant had changed it's menu since the last time I was there. They have a gift for putting flavors together that I just never would have thought. It was a hard decision between their soft boiled egg and asparagus sandwich and their Curry Chicken Salad. I ended up selecting the chicken salad.

This little bistro has served as my creative inspiration a couple of times. As soon as I tasted this wonderful Curry Chicken Salad, I knew I was going to go home and play with it until I could make something very similar that I could have any time I wanted it! This is what I came up with:

Curry Chicken Salad

1 pound chicken breast
2 stalks of celery
1 apple
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pistachio's
6 ounces plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 T curry powder

1. Cook your chicken breast. I boiled mine.
2. Cut your celery stalks into small bite size pieces.
3. Chop apple into bite sized pieces.
4. Remove pistachio's from their shell. Dry roast them. (I put mine in a dry skillet and heated them until they became fragrant.
5. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Add the Greek Yogurt and add the Mayonnaise.
6. Add Curry Powder. I use a mild yellow curry. I added about 1 T of Curry Powder but you may like it a little stronger.

I have played a little with the apple. The first time I made it I used a red apple. The next time I used a green Granny Smith. I think this is dependent on your taste. I will also say the restaurant did not use cranberries. They used golden raisins.  I used what I had on hand.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Farting Fred

Passing gas, my friends, is a fact of life. My dear Uncle Steve always use to say he has more room on the outside than on the inside. Wise wisdom.

If you are the parent of a boy then you know that passing gas is not only biological; it is also comical. I do not know why but all the men in my life will rollover laughing at the mere hint of bathroom humor.  It is a sad but true fact of my life.

I do not think I am alone. I have watched enough Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey movies to know they also think it is funny. Catch an episode of Ridiculousness and I am sure you are gonna see some there. Why? Because men think it is funny.

 A few weeks ago, my Johnson family gathered together to celebrate the return home of three of our relatives. My cousin Candace and her two beautiful daughters came to visit us from North Carolina.

As is typical, when you have a family gathering stories come up. Candace was telling me about the last time she had seen The Boy. He was three years old. I guess during that visit The Boy was quite proud of his God given talent of farting on demand.  He practiced that skill a lot during his entire visit. Her poor daughter has kept this memory of my son with her for the past fourteen years.

Listening to her, reminded me of a toy that my Uncle Dean actually purchased for The Boy when he was about three years old. My Uncle was an over-the-road truck driver and he took The Boy with him one night to a truck stop. I let him go with my uncle because I thought he would get a kick out riding in a "big truck." I had no idea what was about to happen!

Uncle Dean tells the story that he lost track of The Boy in the truck stop. {NOT what a social worker wants to hear from her uncle} and found him in an aisle of toys doubled over laughing. The Boy had found a "Farting Fred" toy : a shirtless man sitting in a recliner with a very large "pull me" finger.

 I will only give you one guess as to what happens when you pull his finger.

Uncle Dean bought that toy for my son. They brought it home like it was the best thing since sliced bread. Laughing and giggling. In my mind, that toy was about as undesirable as you could get. I even tried to show my disapproval. But after sitting at the table for an hour listening to Farting Fred repeat his lines, listening to The Boy and Uncle Dean repeat the lines, and hearing them giggle nonstop, I can tell you it all became contagious. We all laughed so hard. Not just that night but for many nights after that. The Boy even memorized the lines. He used them any time he needed to or just wanted to get a laugh.

For years, The Boy played with Farting Fred. His long finger gradually turned black from handling. His seams eventually burst. But he will still fart on demand if his finger is pulled. And he is still in my son's possessions!  He was such a part of my sons childhood that I have advocated keeping him on the few occasions The Boy thought he no longer needed him.

So, for the cousins, I post this video of Farting Fred. If you can't beat them you might as well join them. As a side note, The Short Chic had never seen Farting Fred before tonight. She now "loves that guy!" The Husband also loves Farting Fred. They sat in my son's room tonight giggling like school kids. I tell ya, bathroom humor never gets old.

Thanks, Uncle Dean!