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Friday, August 31, 2012

Lessons from the Lunchlady: I'll just have the hot dog

The first four days I'd school are in the books and we managed to feed the kids with little to no complaints in a somewhat timely fashion.

Here's what I learned the first week of school.

There's a lot of guesswork that goes into ordering. Quick, how many kindergarteners will eat a hotdog on the first day of school? How should you know? Exactly my point. I figured more buns was better than not enough.

The great milk debate. I am only offering white milk/skim milk for breakfast and so far it is going great. About 90 percent of the kids are taking it and I've had few questions about it. One 1st grader amazed herself when she "made" her own chocolate milk by pouring it onto her coco puff (Before I get any crap about serving coco puffs, please note that they are half cup servings of reduced fat/low sugar coco puff and contain only 12 grams of sugar).

I'll just have the hot dog. One little kindergartener told me at breakfast that he liked the hotdog so much that he came back for another one. He was amazed to learn that we served different foods for breakfast. He jumped excitedly when I told him we were having eggs.

Is there popcorn in the chicken? A kindergartener asked her mom if the popcorn chicken was made out of popcorn or mixed with popcorn. Goodness, that might be one of my favorite questions of all times.

Being on my feet all day. It's hard to get back into the swing of things after chillaxin at the pool all summer. My feet are still mad at me for making them wear shoes.

What did you learn?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

An Open Letter to my 6th grader

Dear Middle G,.
Are you really in 6th grade?  Say it isn't so.  Your age keeps sneaking up on me.  Before I know it, and before I'm ready for it, you'll be asking for the car keys.
This is your final year at the intermediate building.  You're one of the older kids in the building, but still one of the smallest.  You have a lot of spunk and you make me laugh all the time.
Here are a few things I want you to remember at the start of sixth grade.
  • Don't be to anxious to "grow up".  You asked me the other day if I thought you should shave your legs and my response was simple.  "I think you should shave your legs as long as you are ready to make it a lifetime commitment."  Once you start you can't stop.  You decided on your own to wait a little while.  I'm sort of glad.
  • It's good to have someone who always has your back.  I'm glad you have a good buddy who you can confide in and share laughs with.  The good thing about being a girl is that we make friends easier than boys.  The bad thing about being a girl that some of those friends look for ways to create drama.
  • Boys, boys, boys.  You are starting to realize that not all boys are gross.  My advice to you regarding boys, "Never let a boy come between you and a friend.  It's simply not worth it."
  • School is important.   You aren't exceptionally excited about the start of school.  You don't really like to read and sometimes you complain about math.  While it is true that you likely will not need to know the capital of Uzbekistan, you should look at all those lessons like adventures.  Just think of all the things you might learn tomorrow.
  • Treat others the way you'd like to be treated.  I stress this point often and I'm sure you are sick of hearing it, but I think it's starting to sink in.  Tonight, when your best friend scored a goal in a scrimmage game, you immediately ran up and hugged her.  It made no difference to you that she was playing against you!
This moment, the start of 6th grade, it will never happen again.  Let's take some time to enjoy it; to relish it, to really immerse ourselves in the present.  Time really does fly and once it's gone, well it's gone.
I hope you learn lots of lessons in 6th grade!  Make it a great year.  The choice is yours.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An open letter to my 8th grader

Dear Oldest G,

You are becoming a beautiful young woman.  I am amazed when I look at you.  Gone is the little girl with the blond ringlets and standing in her place is a young adult who looks so much like me.

As you complete your middle school journey I want you to remember a few things.

  • Middle School has a lot of drama.  The thing about drama is that, if you let it, it will follow you wherever you go.  Those girls that make little things into big things, they do that as adults too.  Decide not to partake.  The choice really is yours.
  • Boys eventually mature (okay not all of them).  Middle school boys think body noises are funny and boobs are great.  Eventually, these boys grow up and stop making the body noises, but they always think boobs are great.
  • As with anything, what effort you put in, matches the result you receive.  If you apply yourself, you can pretty much accomplish anything.  There is an old saying that asks the question, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer is "One bite at a time."
  • Don't be too anxious for things to end.  Live in the moment, because this moment, the start of eighth grade, it will never happen again.
  • Surround yourself with people that make life bearable.  There are two different kinds of people in the world: the givers and the takers.  Try to be a giver.
Here's hoping that you continue to shine in 8th grade.  I am very proud of you and the wonderful young woman you are becoming.

~ Mom ~

Monday, August 27, 2012

My son is sensitive, caring and likes things that sparkle!!!

My little boy teaches me many things.

He teaches me the importance of not caring what other people think. He acts like himself no matter who is around. He never pretends to be something he is not.

He paints his nails more than I wish he would, but I don't stop him.

He just likes the colors.

He teaches me about treating others they way you would like to be treated. He says his friends know that he's a "Tom-girl" and they don't care. He says he doesn't care what his friends like or don't like he just knows he likes them.

He likes things that sparkle.

Yesterday he wanted me to buy him a sparkly (very sparkly) best friends necklace and all I could think about was how others will make fun of him. It was two halves of a heart and they were magnetic. He wanted to give the other half to me.

I'm not proud of it but I was desperate to talk him out of it. I just didn't want him to be made fun of.

My almost 9 year old son asked me if I was embarrassed by him.


Of course, not I said.

I just don't like sparkly pink, I said.

We ended up getting gumball machines. His is teal and mine is pink. They say BFFs.

I am honored to be his BFF and I hope he knows that know matter what he does he will never embarrass me.

I love him sparkles, glitter and all!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lessons from the Lunchlady: Ready or Not...

Photo Credit The Awesome Terry Border

The countdown has begun.

Many neighboring school districts have already started.

We're last out of the starting gate with our Tuesday morning beginning, but barring anything unforeseen, I think (swalling hard), I'm ready.

The food has arrived.

The milk and bread have been ordered, due to arrive on Monday.

Produce may make an appearance on Tuesday.

Fingers crossed.

Guess there's nothing left to do but see what we can learn.

Tune in next week...
Thursday, August 23, 2012

A story about a purple bee sting

Two week's ago, my daughter got stung by a bee at the pool. The lifeguard gave her some bee sting spray and a bag of ice and sent her on her way.

Twenty four hours later, her foot looked like this.

I called the doctor and spoke to a nurse. She said that swelling was a "common" reaction and that if it didn't go down within a week's time or it swelled up beyond her ankle to call back.

She also said to watch for streaking coming from the area.

The swelling went down, but middle G continued to complain about the itching. She went to the beach with a friend over the weekend. She had a fabulous time.

When she came home, I asked, "How was your foot."

"It's still itchy. Oh and every now and then it turns dark purple."

She is eleven and prone to exaggeration, but sure enough. The foot has been dark, dark purple a couple times this week.

You can't really tell in this photo, but her toes are quite purple and the skin on the top of her foot blanches and feels sort of clammy to the touch.

I called the doctor. Spoke to a different nurse.

He didn't know what could be the cause. Asked me if I was sure she hadn't bruised it. Asked if she had a fever. I'm sure and she doesn't.

They wanted me to come in at 9 p.m. tonight and I said... "yeah, about tomorrow."

8:30 a.m. And you know that foot won't be purple.

Anyone have a similar story?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why querying agents is so painfully difficult

Here are a few things you should know when querying agents.

It is painful.

The stories we write are close to our hearts. They bring us laughter and tears. They talk to us. Literally. Ask any writer. We hear their voices. We know what they want to say. Sometimes we get out of bed at weird hours just to write it down.

We send these heartfelt words to agent after agent and many of them send form letters back (if we are lucky). Others just ignore us all together. Every now and then we get an invitation. A bite. A request for a partial.

Please send five pages.

Five pages? But...

Nope. Just five.

Sometimes we get an even bigger bite. Please send 25 pages. Maybe even 50. Please send them in times new roman font 12 with no more than 1/2 inch margins.

For me those bites have ended there. After four months I have had only three partial requests and all of them have been rejected. My hope was that I would have more interest by my 40th birthday.

At first I was a little sad that I didn't accomplish that goal but then I realized that I'll be 40 until next July. I still have plenty of time.

Besides, it's never in ones best interest to give up on a dream.

What are you dreaming about?

Monday, August 20, 2012

An Open Letter to Walmart

Dear Walmart,

How do I dislike you?  Let me count the ways.

There is the fact that you have 45 registers and you only open 4.  Why?  It's like you are purposely trying to piss me off.

There is the fact that the people working at the deli would rather be anywhere but in the deli.  I realize that maybe that isn't their dream job but when an elderly gentleman with two hearing aides simply wants to know which turkey lunch meat has the least amount of sodium so he doesn't poison his wife screaming 14 percent over and over at him is not the right answer. 

There is the fact that no matter the time of day there will be someone there giving a beat down to a small child.  It doesn't matter if its 7 a.m. or 11 p.m. someone will be there yelling at a child under three years of age.

There is the fact that without fail I will get behind the person with a cart full of school supplies and every ad in the tri-county area attempting to price match so they can save an additional 3 cents.  Seriously.  If I give you a dollar, will you go to another register.

There is the fact that your produce looks like a second hand store.  I realize that the Giant is selling strawberries for $3.50 lb and you are selling them for $1.50 lb, but if I can't eat them how does that help me?  Can't you see the mold?

There is the fact that all 4,000 carts are currently in the parking lot.

There is the fact that no matter what time of day or what time of year THERE IS ALWAYS A LINE A CUSTOMER SERVICE.  Hire more people to work customer service.  Preferably nicer people than those that work at your deli!

There is the fact that no matter how hard I try I can't seem to find better prices on groceries because if I could I WOULD NEVER ENTER YOUR STORE AGAIN!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Poolside Perspective: the final splash

Summer can't possibly be coming to an end!?!? It only just begun.

Sadly it is time to take off my flip flops and put on some sneakers. (have I ever told you how much I hate socks?)

This is our final Poolside Perspective of the season. Next week, Lessons from the lunchlady will return when I update all of you on my child nutrition summer workshop.

Here's what I learned at the pool.

You are never too old to jump off the high dive. I think as we age we begin to feel like there are things we just shouldn't do anymore. When my friend B was in line for the high dive the small boy behind her was simply flabbergasted. "Is you gonna jump off the high dive?" he asked. "Ain't you too old?". B said he was lucky he was cute.

Drowning your kid (or someone else's) is frowned upon. I swear all I wanted to do was jump on the raft and torture my friend B's son. Who knew he'd be so slippery and that we would both go tumbled off into the shallow; me crushing my knee into his head. I really wasn't trying to drown him.

Pool bathrooms disgust me. Can someone please hose those nasty,germ encrusted cesspools down? For the love of all things holy, can you please make your kid put shoes on. I vomit a little every time I see them run in barefoot.

Letting the child in charge of the bee sting spray = dumb idea. Middle G tramped on a bee this week and went to see the lifeguard who promptly gave her ice and let her friend spray some random bug spray on her foot. Seriously?

Are these inside out? Wearing you bathing suit bottoms inside out to the pool in front of two 11 year olds will cause much laughter and a lot of OMGs.

In conclusion, we had a lot of fun at the pool this year, we jumped off the dives, we floated in our rafts, we ate cheese fries, we made new friends.

Already looking forward to sitting poolside next year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Students are not obese because they are eating school lunch

There's about 5.6 million things I didn't know before I started working in a school cafeteria.  For example, did you know that school nutrition employees use the words Meat/Meat Alternate frequently?

Did you know Mac & Cheese is a meat alternate?

Did you know that a chicken patty sandwich, one of the most coveted of all cafeteria meals, qualifies as a meat and three grains?  Each part of the bun is considered one grain and the breading on the chicken another.

New USDA regulations require us to limit grains to 8-10 servings a week.  I just used up three on that chicken patty sandwich.

You are going to see a lot more beans this year and a lot more leafy greens.  What you won't see is cheese on the broccoli, or rice krispy treats, or low fat smores.

The likelihood that we will have crackers for soup = slim.

My hope is that kids will still buy.  That kids will try the asparagus and maybe a small few of them will like it.  I am hoping that by offering the kids a heaping cup of fresh strawberries and blueberries top with a fat free dollop of whipped topping they will forget that we no longer have pudding.

If you want to know the truth, I'm still trying to get my brain around all the changes. 

Many of them are for the positive.

That being said, I must conclude with a small soap box moment. 


Students are obese because they are continuously drinking soda.  How much sugar is in your kids Mt. Dew?  Answer: 21 teaspoons

Students are obese because they think potato chips and fruit snacks are veggies and fruit.  Many of them can't tell the difference between a pea and a green bean.  They think pears are rotten apples.  They think blueberries are baby grapes.  They are obese because they are unaware that bananas come in peels.

We, as a whole, are addicted to our computers, our phones, our laptops, our ipads, our ipods. 

We eat more and more and move less and less.

While I realize that eating healthy is difficult, it is not impossible.  We are raising the first generation of children not predicted to outlive the generation before.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Tribute: my friends

I have the greatest friends.

They are always there for me no matter what.

They make me laugh.

They celebrate with me.

They blog with me.

They drag my kids to the pool when I have a child nutrition meeting.

They bring me milk from the grocery store.

They help me organize the freezer.

They take my kids when I have a board meeting.

They shovel my driveway when my husband is in China.

They let me vent about the governor, who I think has a vendetta against public schools.

They read my articles.

They proof my books.

They are simply wonderful.

Monday, August 13, 2012

An Open Post-It to a few irritants

I haven't slept much in the last two weeks.  I'm starting to feel the results of it.  I'm a little more irritable.  I'm a little easier to anger.  I am certain that once school starts (in two freakin' weeks) that I am going to be exhausted.  So why can't I sleep in while I still have a chance?

Last week I wrote an open letter to my mammogram and within 24 hours I got a call back asking if a diagnostic mammogram could be performed on my right breast.  I went today for an even more elaborate mammogram (I'm now a seasoned pro) and was told I would have results prior to leaving.  Once out of my cool cape, I was escorted to a room filled with random images of my boob.  It was ....I don't know.  Weird?  Awkward?  Nerve racking?  The radiologist showed me random flecks of nothing and said that they were calcium deposits but he could not determine if they were cancer or not.  His best guess is no but he suggested that they rescan my breast in six month.  Um...this is not going to help my insomnia.

While I am VERY excited to be serving significantly improved student lunches, I am disappointed that the USDA thinks that an entire cup of fruit and/or vegetables is a proper serving for a K-3 student.  This is exceptionally wasteful.  Very few students will eat this entire serving.

Why do you hate me?  Why can't you smoothly transition into my helm?  Why can't you change over passwords in a easy and quick manner?  Why are you not up to date with current students.  Can't we come to a truce?  I didn't want S to leave either.  I wanted her to stay.  So play nice or this year is going to suck for the both of us.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Poolside is postponed...for now.

This week I made it to the pool once.


Between company leaving and different company arriving, between the Tyson chicken and the Pillsbury Doughboy, between mammograms and trips to Hershey, between storm clouds and rain storms, we made it to the pool once.

And even though I learned a few things, I will save them for next week OUR LAST POOLSIDE PERSPECTIVE of the summer. (say it isn't so!)

The week of the 20th, I need to prepare the kitchen for the return of the troops. I'll probably also need a few extra Xanax as I begin to freak out over the fact that I AM NOW THE BOSS. (what was I thinking???)

Over the next 14 days three of them will be spent in meetings. I still wanna clean out a few closets on throw some crap out Tuesday and I'd like to finish my deck furniture project. Here's a preview.

I am working in a scrapbook for a friend and I'd love to get my kids birthday books and school books up to date!!

Can it all be done. Odds are not likely, but it's fun to try.

What's on your agenda for summer's end???
Thursday, August 9, 2012

Can I serve French fries everyday as long as I include 3% milk?

I really wasn't sure what to expect when I signed up to attend the school nutrition association's annual conference.

I, however, was pleasantly surprised. Great things are happening in school nutrition and I think the more excited we get about it the more excited the kids will be.

Yesterday, I got to hang out with Jill Jayne from Jump with Jill. We did things like this...

I also got to meet the Tyson chicken and the pilsbury doughboy.

School meals will still continue to have five components but instead of fruits and veggie being combined they will now be seperate groups.

What does that mean to you?

It means in an offer vs. serve district your child can no longer receive a qualifying meal without taking a fruit or a veggie.

Before, a sandwich and a milk was a reimbursable meal. Now we get to say cool things like.

"Slow down, Sam, and get some yams."

"Pick up some beets, Pete."

"Stop with the boos and jeers and try some pears."

Now it might come as a shock to you that not everyone is super receptive to change.


Some people (thankfully no one I work with) just want to serve fries and pizza everyday.

But it is time to say goodbye to those days.

Pizza is now on whole grain crust.

The "fries" are really sweet potatoes.

The chocolate milk is fat free.

Who knows, before the end of the year I might get your kiddo to try some arugula.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An Open Letter to my Mammogram

Dear Mammogram,

I have been warned about you by many a family member and a friend.  I have been told about your painful nature and tendency to, shall we say, "leave a mark".

All of these thoughts were running through my mind as I went for my first mammogram yesterday.  I wonder if it's really as bad as everyone says it is, I asked myself.

After a short wait I was escorted back to a small locker room/waiting room.  The tech told me to undress from the waist up and provided me with a...wait for it....cape.  Sweet!  I like feeling like a superhero.

After adorning my cape, I was escorted to another room.  This was the room with the vice like contraption I had heard so much about.

My question, mammogram, is this.  Why do so many women have so many negative things to say about you but fail to mention your evil Nemesis the nipple sticker?

I can probably list more than ten terrible things I have heard about you but not one of them includes the nipple sticker.  The tiny sticker with the metal ball attached that "helps the x-ray techs to see my nipple better".

There is a gross injustice going on here.  While I found you to be moderately uncomfortable and slightly absurd, the discomfort was nothing compared to the removal of the nipple sticker.  I simply couldn't decide if a quick rip was better than a slow pull.  I simply felt ridiculous and after I finally got the first one off, I considered leaving the second one in place.

In conclusion, I feel like you are being grossly misrepresented and that while you are clearly not as fun as a good teeth cleaning, you are no more unpleasant than a throat culture.

That nipple sticker, though, she clearly needs to go.


Monday, August 6, 2012

The Best Birthday Party Ever

We talked last week about my turning forty.  Ouch.  Friday was my big dance party weekend.  We had SOOOOOOOO much fun.  Here are a few of my favorite pics and some of the best quotes of the evening....

We had never been to this particular dance club.  It opened at 9 p.m. and stayed open until 2 a.m. so we decided to get there when it opened to make sure we could get a table.  When we pulled in there was one other car.  My sister says, "I'm not sure we are going to get a table."

After entering the totally dead club, my friend R orders a beer and it comes in the tiniest glass I've ever seen, she said, "Um...can I get another one cause I'm going to finish this in two sips."

This club claims to play all the hits of the 80s, 90s and today.  Even though the place was near dead, when they played "Push it" my sister and I were dancing.

It's amazing how once you start the party others will follow.  Including Richard - the older gentleman dancing with my sister.  He just thought our group was so  sweet.  Just look at my laughter.

When life gives you lemons, ask for tequila and salt.  R, my sister and me toasting a great time and good friends.

My friend, A decided that a toast was a great idea and then she dragged R to the dance floor to request Poor Some Sugar on Me.  Another great quote, "Um...the DJ has never heard of Def Leppard."  Seriously???

My friend, R, was harassed most of the evening due to her unique hairstyle.  Please note: people wearing their hair in a Mohawk a) don't want to give you beauty tips, b) explain in detail how they sprayed it up or c) want you to touch their hair.  Favorite quote:  "I'm like a zoo animal.  Do you touch the zoo animals? Please look but don't touch."

We had an awesome time and in all honesty I don't really feel any older than I did last year. I did learn that I have some awesome friends and a sister that never ceases to make me laugh.
Friday, August 3, 2012

Poolside Perspective: can you read?

This week's weather wasn't particularly pool friendly. We did squeeze in a few visits and here's what I learned.

No diving. Teaching your kid to dive off the sign that says NO DIVING proves that you are not smarter than a preschooler.

You can't swim like an Olympian. Olympic fever makes people think they too can kick and turn with the best of them. you can't.

Doing laps is hard work. I decided to swim five laps in an inner tube from one side of the pool to the other. No even the long way. The fact that this is tiring is proof that I am completely out of shape. Completely.

If your baby is in the pool, you should be too. Seriously, does someone really need to tell you that if your baby is in a float your ass should be in the pool. Seriously? You are dumber than the person teaching her kid to dive in the shallow.

Keeping your promise and jumping off the high dive with your son = priceless.

What did you learn this week?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

An update on my summer goals

In June I shared a post listing ten things I'd like to accomplish this summer.

It is going much better than expected.

READ. I am well on my way to meeting my five book summer goal and (gasp) might even surpass it. Look for mini reviews of these books over the next few weeks.

DECLUTTER. As promised, we have been throwing "crap" out every Tuesday and it is finally starting to look a lot less crowded.

CELEBRATE. Tomorrow I'll be dancing at club celebrating my birthday with about a dozen friends. It has the potential to be a fun memorable night. (*smile*)

PEDICURES. Two down and one to go. Looks like my BFF and I are set to go next week! Yeah!

FIRE AND FRIENDS. Because of the weather, and an unexpected burn ban, we haven't had many fires. However, we are set to have one this weekend and we have had quite a few friends over minus the marshmellows.

PAINT. We survived the redo and painting of my daughters' room. Barely.

SCRAPBOOK. I am on track to have at least 30 pages complete over the summer months. I am working in a book for her husband's 40th birthday, updating the kids school books and birthday books.

BULLETIN BOARDS. Almost all requested cuts are complete. I just have about 75 dog bones to bust out. More photos later.

UNPLUG. I probably could unplug more...but the donkey farm was a challenge. Today we are off to the zoo and I have no plans to check in again until late tonight.

SUBMIT, SUBMIT, SUBMIT. As much as I hoped and prayed that I would have sold my book by my 40th birthday, it wasn't meant to be. That's not to say I have given up and I am certainly still submitting.

As you know, I've spent a lot of time at the pool. I've spent far too much time yelling at my kids to get them to practice their instruments. I traveled to the donkey farm and my sister is currently visiting.

I have plans to tackle Hershey with oldest and teach her the joys of roller coasters. And with any luck, might see Def Leppard and Poison in concert.

It's no marathon, but it's not too shabby. *smile*
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I'm a 41 year old (gasp) freelance writer, school cafeteria manager, wife and mother. I have three children and one anxious and overweight beagle. I use my blog to make others laugh, to share some cool crafts, to document my lunchlady adventures and to lament about the challenges faced by us all on the journey called life. Thanks for visiting. Please leave some meant some comments.
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