Today marks three weeks since I began the Whole30 challenge
It's been very hard, exhilirating and boring, all at the same time.
Hard because I love chocolate, I miss chocolate and I think about it fondly and often.
Exhilirating because I am finally doing something for me and about me, and while I have no idea if I am losing any weight because weighing in is a big no-no until the 30 days are up, I feel better, sleep better, think better and eat better.
And boring, because I'm bored, literally bored with what I am eating.
There is only so much poached salmon, grilled chicken and diced avocados a person can eat. So for dinner tonight, I invented my own recipe and and it worked (it's okay, I'm shocked too).
It's super simple and very yummy.
And the best part, you can use as much or as little of any of the ingredients as you like.
And even better than the best part, if you have some chicken that has already been cooked sitting around in the fridge (and if you're Whole30ing, you really should have some), then you won't have to actually cook anything here, just chop, mix and eat.
What should I call this?
I think we're going to go with Citrus-Chicken Salad.
Romaine lettuce (or your favorite salad green), chopped
grapefruit, peeled, sliced and cut up
a handful of raw cashews
Toss the first five ingredients in a bowl. Add a little olive oil and salt. Retoss. Eat.
It was quite good, if I may say so myself. And there was also quite a lot left over, so I guess my dinner for tomorrow night is already done. Hooray.
And I keep thinking, Day 21 already, what am I going to do on Day 31? How and what will I eat. I'm getting nervous.
And because I seem to be the master of bad transition sentences lately, I'm now going to say that Chanukah is making me nervous too. There is still so much that I have not done. (See how I did that, with the word nervous in both sentences? Clever. I know. )
For the past fews years, I've been thinking about making a Chanukah bingo game for our family Chanukah party, but it always seems like so much work. I can make that first bingo board, no problem. It's the shuffling around of the pictures to make the other boards that throws me. So I've never done it.
I'm sure then, that you can imagine my delight when I found these free (free!) printable Chanukah themed bingo boards on Crayola.com
Just print and go.
And you can use chocolate Chanukah gelt as the pieces so even the players that don't win, win with all that chocolate. I think I'm going to be the bingo caller. I can't be trusted around all that chocolate. You know, the Whole30 and all. (See how I tied that all together like that at the end? I know.)
While Hurricane Sandy was quite scary, especially because in our area, the worst took place during the night - in the pitch black - the days of blackout that followed were, for us (because we are quite lucky and have an intact house and car) quite boring.
We didn't last longer than 36 hours without power in our house; we moved on to my parents' warm and brightly lit house full of televisions and snacks quite quickly. However, in the brief day and a half that we did stay home, we compiled a list of fun activities that need no electricity and are not board games - for some reason, those got pretty old pretty fast.
Here, some ideas of ways to keep the kids entertained during a blackout*: 1.
Set your kids up in front of a mirror with a pad of drawing paper and a pencil and have them draw a self-portrait. This is a fun and funny activity because the kids will inevitably think that their drawing looks exactly like them and you will not be able to tell which kid drew which picture. 2.
Hand out a few paper plates and some crayons and tell the kids to color the plates completely. Glue a craft stick or tongue depressor onto the plate, making a handle. Blow up some balloons and play 'keep the balloon in the air'. 3
. Break out a bag of beads and some string and have the kids make necklaces and bracelets. If they make enough of them, they can give them out to the kids in their class when (if) school starts again. Or just use Fruit Loops and use them for a snack later on. 4.
Play hangman. And tic tac toe. Print out some word searches (before the lights go out) and store them with your blackout kit. 5.
Use the balloons and paper plate and sticks from #2 above to play volleyball. String a long piece of ribbon, rope or just plain string from wall to wall and presto, a volleyball net. 6.
Play charades. My kids had never played this before. It went well, plus all the running to the bathroom because they were laughing so hard made the time pass more quickly. 7
. The old classic: build a fort with couches, blankets, sheets and pillows in the living room. Add a few flashlights, books and snacks and you're good to go. Maybe you'll even get lucky and everyone will fall asleep in there. 8.
Grab some vinegar, liquid food coloring and a box or two of baking soda. Pour the box of baking soda into a pan - maybe a disposable 9x13 pan, but anything will work. Pour vinegar into 2 or 3 cups (or more, depending on how many cups of colored vinegar you want to make) and add a drop or two of food coloring to each cup. Using mini-droppers (the kind that come with baby tylenol - I've been saving those for years), pick up some colored vinegar and drop it onto the baking soda. Watch as the baking soda fizzles. It's very cool to see and will keep the kids entertained for a nice long while. Personally, I would make four pans of baking soda to keep the elbowing of siblings to a minimum. Count the number of kids in your house to see how many you should make. 9.
Take a puzzle that does not have too many pieces - between 12-15 sounds good to me - and hide the pieces around the house. The hiding places don't have to be that good, just a puzzle piece on a pillow or dresser. The kids won't be expecting them anyway. Hand our flashlights and set the kids loose looking for the puzzle pieces. When they're done, let them put the puzzle
together. Then hand out snacks. Finding the puzzle pieces is hard work.
Play What's on my Tush?
I found this game online, here
. It basically involved you, the parent, lying on the floor face down, with a pillow (fun already, right?) and the kids get to take turns putting whatever (a crayon, a toy car, a ball, the sadly not working remote) on your backside. The kids give out hints and you have to guess what's sitting on your
tush. This can go on for hours. It's awesome. If you do nothing else, definitely try this one.
See, you can handle this whole blackout thing like a parent who doesn't want to just crawl back into bed with a good book, a drink and a flashlight, even, if like me, that's exactly what you want to do. *Some of the ideas need specific items which you may or may not have in the house. Since I know that you are already putting together some essentials for the next weather-related
incident, such as the Nor'easter coming this way tomorrow, a quick stop at AC Moore might not be a bad idea.
I did something and now I am thinking it might not have the best idea I have ever had, but here goes: I made an indoor hopscotch game. With Duck* tape. On the wood floors.
Anyway, the tape is now on the wood floors. I really really really hope it comes off.
Here's the thing, my kids love to play hopscotch, especially my middle two kids. And by the time school is over each day, the backyard is pretty chilly - and full of leaves that no one has bothered to rake yet.
So instead of going outside and being cold and slipping on leaves, we brought the game inside.
The how-to is almost a no-brainer. Just get some duct tape and a pair of scissors and you're in business. Notice how the boxes get bigger the farther up the hopscotch board you go. That was not intentional, it was more a function of not mapping out a plan first, so if things like asymmetrical boxes bother you, use a ruler first.
You'll also need a permanent marker to draw the numbers inside the boxes. My first thought had been to use the tape to make the numbers, but that turned out to be a lot of work so it was my trusty Sharpie to the rescue!
The only question is what will happens when I try to pull the tape up. Maybe nothing. Maybe the tape will just come off the wood floors flawlessly and all will be well.
Or maybe I should start googling "get duct tape residue off wood floors" now and file away the answers for sometime in the spring.
I'll have to let you know what I find.
What do you think? Will my wood floors ever be the same? Would you try this?
*I know it's actually called duct tape, but the brand name on this one is Duck tape.
We went for a pretty chilly little scavenger hunt the other day.
The mission? To find the colors of the rainbow, even though the sky was a very wintry gray.
Surprisingly, we found what we looking for. I am not sure I would have taken the time to notice all the colors of the rainbow had the kids not been with me on my walk.
And now, in a decidedly non-rainbow order of colors, here is what we found:
(Take a quick click on each picture to see it better.)
It took a few minutes, but I think I was finally able to explain to a bunch of four-year-old girls that if you kiss a frog, he'll turn into a prince, but not really and it's just all pretend because they all looked rather horrified.
Instead of playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey at our recent Princess Birthday Party, we played Pin the Kiss on the Frog, a cute little game floating around online.
At first, I felt like making this game might be more trouble than it was worth. In my head, I saw myself using a white piece of oaktag and either drawing a large frog and spending quite a while coloring it in green or using many pieces of cut up green construction paper and putting the whole thing together like a puzzle, and frankly, neither option appealed to me.
And then, walking around AC Moore, I realized that I could just buy a piece of green oaktag. So I did.
Draw a frog, cut out some shapes that kinda sorta look like lips and the game prep is done. Hooray.
The rules of the game, in case you cannot recall your childhood, are:
1. Tie a bandana around the first player's eyes.
2. Place a kiss (or tail) with a piece of tape into the player's hand.
3. Spin the player around three times and let them go, wandering around, trying to stick their piece to the frog (or donkey). The one who gets it closest to the target wins.
We did a little differently. The girls didn't want to wear a bandana so we let that go. And also, in our game, everyone was a winner - as soon as you taped your kiss to the frog, you got a Hershey kiss. My kind of game.
I knew it. I knew deep down that I was married to a a crafty* guy. Sure, he doesn't like to let it show and he rolls his eyes when I get out my project supplies, but he has apparently come over to the crafting dark side because when he had an idea the other day, he just went with it!
Although, I must say, in all honesty, I had no idea what he was doing.
Here's what happened. I was washing the dishes after the kids were in bed and I made an offhand comment about how when I was doing some of the summer math work with our first grader, I noticed that he didn't really have his basic math facts down. My husband, my MIT-trained engineer and lover of math who teaches AP Calc with such joy, stopped in the middle of the kitchen and said, What? What do you mean? And proceeded to look at me like this was my fault because I had obviously contributed the anti-math gene** to this child.
I went on to explain that we*** were having trouble with single number addition and subtraction. My husband, who usually never ever builds anything unless it means he can use his power tools, grabbed one of those styrafoam 18 egg cartons and using a scissor, cut out a Ten Board. What's a Ten Board? I'm not totally clear on this, but according to Josh, in Singapore (or maybe the
math series he uses is called Singapore Math, I don't really know) they use these boards to make adding easier. But that's not the point of the story.
It's also not the point of the story that Josh used one of the 18-egg styrafoam cartons that I was saving because I like to transfer the eggs from the flimsy cardboard containers that the 2 and 1/2 dozen eggs come in from BJ's into the sturdier 18 egg ones. Anywho, way off topic here.
My whole point here was to share my pride in my husband, the man who cringes everytime I say we should think about some upgrade in the house but that we should totally do it ourselves(!). Just a few years ago he would have decribed to me what he wanted to make and stood there while I made the project. But this time, he used his engineer's brain to do it it himself. I knew sooner
or later I would rub off on him.
Here is a picture of his project.
Simple. And yet beautiful at the same time.
*crafty, as in crafting a project and not as in a mustache twirling crafty kinda guy. Are you still with me?
** I really can't deny it. If there is an anti-math gene in this family, it absolutely came from my side of the family - my maternal side of the family. Sorry, Ma, it's true and we both know it. In college, I took one and only one math class and just so you can better understand where I am coming from, I will tell you that it was called Math for Poets. And I dropped it midway through the semester. I mean, who the heck cares who Fibonacci was and what was so important about his square. Or maybe it was his triangle. I don't know. I can't think about it, I'm getting all worked up here.
*** I'm not just saying "we" here to be nice. I still have to stop and add small numbers in my head for a second when I am checking his work. I was never any good at memorizing math facts. What was the point? I was blessed with ten fingers to count on, I see no reason not to use them to their fullest ability.
Have you ever played The Veggie Stick Game? We play it all the time.
But first, do you know what Veggie Sticks are? Technically they're called Veggie Straws
, but for some reason we call them sticks, not sure why. Anyway, these Veggie Straws
are, according to the Sensible Portions website, "a light and airy treat built for the seasoned snacker".
Really, they're yummy and crunchy little sticks that dissolve in your mouth in such a way that I was comfortable giving them to the kids when they were really little, like less than a year old. They also come in three flavors, all mixed in one bag - potato, spinach and tomato. Don't get too excited, a bag of these will not bring you anywhere close to being able to check off a daily serving of vegetables but they're a good little snack and the kids all like them.
Like I said before, they come in three colors or flavors, all in one bag - yellow, green and orange.
The rules of the game:
1. Close your eyes and open your mouth. (Not necessarily something I advocate but you're hopefully playing this game with loved ones, so I think you're okay here.)
2. Have another player put a Veggie Straw in your mouth.
3. Chew and swallow.
4. Guess the flavor Veggie Straw that you just ate.
Can't do it? Me either. I have never once guessed right. But the rest of the family - the kids and Josh - plus all the friends we've played this with all guess correctly. Apparently there is a distinct flavor between all the different straws. For me, not so much. They all taste exactly the same. But everyone else loves the game.
You can play this the next time you don't feel like standing up and walking over to the game closet to get the Candyland for another rousing round of "you cheated, you picked two cards! No, it's not your turn, it's mine!". Sometimes, putting food in the kids' mouths is a much easier idea.
Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of a little hand and a dreidel that won't sop moving? I'll tell you. Very.
Have you started playing dreidel in your house yet? No? Really? You should.
I've found that it keeps the kids busy (all of them, even the one and half year
old) for a good long while. Definitely enough time to wash all the dinner
dishes, which really doesn't take that long. However, it will make you
smile when you stumble back downstairs, half asleep, after finally getting
everyone into bed, and you will see that the kitchen has already been cleaned.
At first you will think, "oh, dear heavens, finally, my prayers have been
answered, the kitchen angels have visited my house!" And then you will
remember, "no, it was just me after all. Me and the dreidels." The
lovely lovely dreidels that my son's teacher has been giving out (free
dreidels!) for days. Bless her.
Just in case you've forgotten the rules from last year, here they are.
1. Gather everyone around the table, or better yet, sit around on a
carpetless floor. This way the dreidels won't go flying off the table.
2. You'll need pennies, chocolate coins, or for the rich, quarters.
3. Divide the money or chocolate between all the players. Put five of
whatever you're using for chips into the pot (not a real pot, just kind of in the
middle of the table). Let the youngest player spin the dreidel first.
4. If you spin a nun, you get nothing and the next person spins.
5. If you spin a gimel, you get everything in the pot.
6. If you spin a hey, you take half of whatever is in the pot.
7. If you spin a shin, you put one piece into the pot.
8. Keep going until the kids start fighting or the latkes are ready, or
better yet, 'till someone shows up with a box from Dunkin Donuts. Whichever
So yeah, there you have them, the rules. The rules, however, have not been
introduced in my house yet. My kids still think it's fun to just spin them, which is
perfectly fine with me. If you can get away with that, I highly recommend it.
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We've been having, shall we say, some bathroom issues lately. Either the
kids forget the steps they're supposed to take being sitting and wiping their
hands on a towel or they just don't care. Either way, in a bid to help them -
and me, because wiping down the bathroom has been a daily chore lately - I made
them this sign.
I hung one in each bathroom and it's wonderful. The sign - any sign really -
capitalizes on the boys' burgeoning reading abilities, which they are very proud
of. And the words themselves - wipe, flush, wash - are kind of catchy if you say
them in a fast, singsongy kind of way. Yesterday, when I walked past a bathroom in use -
with the door wide open of course - I saw some little feet swinging and heard a little
voice singing the three words to our new anthem.
Whatever it is, it's working. All I can say is yahoo!
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My three year old came home from nursery the other day, all upset, because
it was her turn to be the weather helper, or as she said it, the weathergirl -
yup, that's the word she used, and as luck would have
it, she was wearing a short little skirt and fitted t-shirt that day -
and she didn't know which weather system to pick - hot, cold, cloudy, sunny. She
was all confused.
Today was like that again. Cold, cloudy, sunny, hot. I call it Mr. Roger's
weather. You start the day in a sweater and maybe even a coat, and most likely,
if you are just driving through the drop-off line in the morning, with your
pajama pants still on. Then the day goes on and you exchange your sweater for
something lighter, a cardigan perhaps. And by the time you've run all your
errands and made dinner and you're back in the pick-up line at school, you're so
hot that you've totally unzipped the cotton hoodie that you exchanged for the
cardigan hours ago and pushed the sleeves up as far as they can go and cranked
up the air conditioner. Except that it takes a while for the a/c to kick in
because you've forgotten that knobs are all turned to the heat setting, courtesy
of the winter weather that blew through town in the morning. You see? Just like
Mr. Roger's, with the constantly changing clothes and shoes every time you come
in or leave the house.
I don't like this weather. But the weather isn't the thing that I liked
least about today. It's spelling tests, of the first grade variety. I didn't use
spelling tests as my "thumbs down" during bedtime because that would not have
been constructive parenting, and I would never tell any of my kids this, but I
don't like spelling tests, and more than not liking spelling tests, I don't like
studying for them. And yet, this afternoon, I learned that spelling tests will
now be a part of our Friday lives for the foreseeable future.
It's not that I don't like words. I love words. I love manipulating them,
using a weird phrase, getting paid to write them (hint. anyone out
there looking for me?). But something about writing them over and over
every night of the week, just to get ready for a test on Friday, never appealed
So when the spelling list came home today, I was less than enthused. But
then, while I was rocking the baby to sleep (yes, I know she's not a newborn, so
sue me), I had time to think about the spelling words and what to do about them,
and more importantly, what to do with them so that a very tired first
grader will be open to practicing them nightly, as part of his homework,
preferably without too much complaining.
This was the first thing I did:
I wrote all the words out on slips of paper, using my best preschool
teacher handwriting, and hung them on the back of the front door. Surely seeing
something over and over will help with retention. Right?
And then I had a few other thoughts that might help. I feel like some of
these might appeal to some kids, while other might be liked by other kids.
In no particular order:
1. Use Scrabble tiles to spell out the words
2. Type the words on the computer
3. Use a cookie sheet and some ABC magnets and spell away. Or even sit in
front of a radiator or fridge and do the same.
4. Play hangman with the spelling words
5. Make a word search for your child
Will any of these ideas work? I have no idea. Have I implemented any of
them? Nope. They're just thoughts at this point, but these have to be better
than the memories I have of folding my sheet of looseleaf paper in thirds and
writing each word over and over until I couldn't straight.
Let me know if you use any of these and if they worked. I'll do the same.
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