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Friday, April 29, 2011

Lessons from the Lunchlady: short weeks, long days

This week was very short.  Only three days but for some reason it felt much longer.  I can't really explain it, but these three days felt like nine.

Here's what I learned.

  • chicken, chicken, chicken.  We served lunch three days this week.  Two of those days we served chicken.  One day we had chicken tenders--the kids only get two and they complain the entire time.  Of course, if they actually ate the broccoli, the Alfredo noodles, and the fruit they are given they wouldn't be STARVING when they got home, but alas they only eat the processed chicken parts.
  • fortune cookies.  Attention fortune cookie manufacturers--I would like to suggest three things: (1) Stop putting SOY in your cookies.  This limits our ability to serve them.  (2)  Pick an oil:  Either peanut, soybean, or vegetable but pick one.  When you put things on your label that indicate that the cookies could have been made with this or may have been made with that you not only look stupid but you limit our ability to serve them.  (3)  This one may be the most important.  Come up with fortunes kids would care about and can understand.  When a 5-year old opens a fortune about meeting love at work it is meaningless to them.  Here are a few suggestions:  Math will be easy for you today-- You are Great at Reading --Your next birthday will be the bestest ever! -- Your Lunch lady is Really a Princess.
  • Zippers.  I thought urine in the lunch line was bad but this week we may have had something's what I know.  I'm serving lunch.  It's 1st grade.  Suddenly at least five girls all start saying the same things.  They include:  "He's taking something out of his pants."  "Why is he touching his zipper."  "Don't do that!"  "EWWWWWW...."  I don't know what happened but I sent him to the office with his lunch tray.

    Guess where the valve is?
    **hint**  Carrots really shouldn't have legs..

  • Helium balloons.  My co-worker used to work at a balloon factory or something like that.  She is a jack of all trades.  She can easily manipulate a straw into a helium balloon and through the valve so she can suck the helium and manipulate her voice to sound like Alvin from the Chipmunks.  **FYI:  This really isn't a marketable skill** For me, it's difficult to watch if balloon looks like a giant carrot with legs and the valve is located where it's zipper should be.
What did you learn this week?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Day the Bus Driver and I became (intimately) aquainted

For those of you expecting are at the wrong blog.  Sorry to disappoint.  **smile**

This story is about one of the most embarrassing incidents of my childhood.

Picture it-- You are in 9th grade.  You are 14.  You are trying terribly hard to be cool. 

You are wearing all the hip things.  At that time, that probably included shoulder pads and leather fringe jackets. 

You are teasing your hair WAAAAAAYYYYY out.

You are "so done" with riding the bus. 

You are not paying attention and talking to your friend behind you when you trip up the steps and land FACE FIRST onto the bus driver's lap.  

This may or may not be the actual bus driver I had in the 9th grade.

It's bad, right?  But your thinking it's not that bad.

I forgot to mention my maiden name -- BLUE.

Enough said.

This post was inspired by Mama Kat's world famous writer's workshop

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hump Day Craft Post -- A Secret Project

I am working on a secret craft project.  I don't want to give too much of it away, but I hope to post pics of it after it is complete.

These paper piecings are part of the project.  I made quite a few different ones, but these ones were, by far, the most complicated.

These are made at 7 inches on the Cricut Expression.  Each individual color is a different cut.  Even at 7 inches those little eyeballs were a pain in the a**.

Do you have a craft you'd like to share?  Leave me a link so I can stop by and see it.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reasons I love my job -- #3

Last week I started sharing some of the things I love about my jobs. 

I posted this reason and this reason why I love being a lunch lady.  I had every intention of posting this very post you are reading the next day on all the reasons I love being a freelance writer for the newspaper.

That was until I was verbally abused by a school district superintendent who didn't like the headline that ran with my piece.  Most educated people know that the writers don't write the headlines.

It's all about layout and where the piece will be and how big the headline needs to be.  Even after I explained this quite nicely to said offended super she said and I quote, "I don't care.  All of ________ is blaming you."  Really?  The entire district is blaming me...for a headline?

Sadly, a correction ran and an apology was given yet she still has yet to contact me to apologize for her downright ignorance.  Not like I really expected it or anything.

That being said, I have cooled off considerably and I'm ready to tell you what I love about freelance work for the newspaper. 

  • GRADUATIONS.  Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time can tell you that I am a graduation junkie.  I love receiving advice from 17 and 18 year olds.  I keep my fingers crossed that someone will quote Dr. Seuss.  The season is right around the corner and I hope to attend at least five!
  • MY NAME IN PRINT.  Granted my name may be on the story with the incorrect headline or it might be followed with an in depth account of a new traffic speed hump but I still love seeing it.  Just between you and I...I really like it when my kids find it.  "Hey...look, mom.  This story is written by you."
  • THE REGULARS.  At every meeting I attend (usually at least 8 a month) there are some regulars.  Taxpayers that actually care what the school board is doing, bored old men, and just to keep things interesting a jaded employee or a random crazy.  I like talking to them.  I like hearing the reason behind why they come.  In general, I'm nosey and that is very good for what I do.
  • THE COMPETITION.  I live in an area that prints both a morning and and an afternoon paper.  I have worked for the afternoon paper for five years now.  I often sit with the reporter who is covering the same meeting for the morning paper.  I realize that we are supposed to be fierce competitors trying to upstage each other with the better story.  But let's be serious, we write about things like school budgets, sewer repairs and stadium turf.  No one is usurping anyone else.
Tell me at least one thing you like about your job...
Monday, April 25, 2011

Important things to remember prior to visiting family for the holidays

I blinked my eyes and it was Easter. 

Easter was, according to the calendar, rather late this year.  However it didn't really feel all that late to me.  I realize that these important reminders would have been more appropriate had I provided them to you last week, prior to your family gatherings, but I've been told that it is better late than never.

Read.  Remember. And you will be more prepared for your next holiday gathering.

  1. Wine.  Holidays go better with wine.  It's important to remember that the more you drink, the less everyone annoys you.  Of course, if you drink too much, you become the annoying one.  Use caution.
  2. Quiet.  It's important to remember two words...internal dialoge.  Your ability to keep your mouth shut even when you'd rather not is priceless.  Holidays flow smoother if you don't say everything running rampant through your mind.  **note** if you are struggling with this rule try texting a friend who may be trapped at her own holiday gathering.
  3. Food + Kids.  Unlike adults, kids could care less if the focus of the holiday gathering is the meal.  You aren't going to get them to eat any more than you would if it was lunch on Tuesday.  Best not to stress over the fact that they ate one greenbean and licked a piece of ham.  This distaste for Easter dinner does not mean they don't like Easter.  Give them some chocolate and let them leave the room.
  4. Dishes.  It is best to have a dishwasher if you are planning on feeding more than three people.  If, however, you happen to be celebrating at your in-laws and they haven't updated their kitchen since 1972 then try convincing the men that it is their duty to help clean up. 
  5. Egg hunts.  In regards to No. 1., hide the eggs before you open the wine.  That way you will be more likely to remember where you hid them.
Hope you had a blessed Easter.  Filled with the HOPE of salvation, the laughter of children, the sweet taste of peanut butter eggs and at least one glass of expensive (or cheap) wine.
Friday, April 22, 2011

Lessons from the Lunchlady: Ingredients are key

This week was only four days long.  We're on holiday break until next Wednesday.  My weekend plans involve a lot of family so I'm planning on picking up some wine.

Here are a few things I learned this week:

  • Ingredients are worth reading:  We had hamburgers earlier this week.  Two different cases arrived.  I realize the pictures are fuzzy but even without looking you can clearly tell that one package contains little more than beef and the other package contains, not only a soy allergy warning, but about 12 things I can't pronounce.  I brought this to the attention of our Food Service department and I'm hoping that I don't see Case No 9780 anymore.
  • Syrup.  It never fails.  If a kid is going to spill their little, tiny syrup cup it's gonna land directly on their crotch.  It's amazing how much syrup those little cups hold.  I just send them straight to the nurse for new pants.
  • Jelly Beans .  My boss bought enough jelly beans and gummy bunnies for the entire school...even the packers.  We waited until the first lunch wave was seated and then we delivered our holiday surprise.  Much to our annoyance by the time the other waves started to arrive they all were very EXPECTANT of jelly beans.  Lots of little kids saying, "Hey where's my jelly beans?"  and "How come I didn't get no jelly beans?"  Really?  I realize they are at the age when fairness is key but give us a chance before you start demanding. 
  • The name game.  I had a dream that we were going to start naming meals after teachers and other staff.  This became a really fun game we played most of the week.  Mrs. D's Delicious Potato Bowl, Mrs. Z's small snack of cheeze-its, Dr. P's perfect peas, Mrs. W's terrific tator tots.  We might come up with a menu board for the start of next year.
What did you learn this week?
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Writer's Workshop: A phone call I'll never forget

My sister and I grew up in a neighborhood filled with kids.  Our house was home base for all of our neighborhood games.  We played tag, run-down, kick-the-can and any other game we could fancy in our childish minds.

Directly across the street from us live two boys.  Two boys whom we grew to love but not in that mushy, gushy, romantic love kind of way.  These boys became our brothers.  Our parents loved each other.  Our moms were great friends.  Our dads tolerated each other like most men do.

We camped together.

We played cards together.

We BBQd together.

After school all four of us came home to empty houses.  It wasn't all that unusual back then.  We were referred to as latch-key kids.  We spent the hours of after-school until after-work alone.

My sister and I were given strict instructions not to let those boys into the house.  The boys were given strict instructions not to let us into their house.  Of course, we were always in each others houses.  After all, strict instructions were meant to be broken.

Life has a way of evolving and soon I was a teenager off with friends my own age.  We still talked and waved at each other but in a flash I was out of house and they were left behind.  My sister graduated with the oldest boy and after that graduation we lost track of the brothers for a while.

We'd laugh and catch up at holidays when we all returned from where ever the wind had blown us.

I was living in Ohio when my dad called me to tell me of the youngest brother's death.  He was 20.  A car accident.  His brother was in the car but he survived.  I remember feeling empty and so very sad.  He had grown into such a wonderful young man with a great future ahead of him and in a flash he was gone.

My husband and I drove six hours one way for his funeral.  If I close my eyes I can still hear the guttural sobs coming from his mother as the church goers sang "and he will raise you up on eagles wings; bear you on the breath of dawn; make you to shine like the sun; and hold you in the palm of his hand."

Thirteen years later and I still feel a little empty when I think about him.  I wonder what he would have become and what his children would have been like. 

I still talk to his brother, but not nearly as much as I would like.  God blessed him with a son who shares a birthday with the uncle he never had a chance to meet.

Makes me think maybe God has a plan after all...even if I don't understand it.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hump Day Craft Post -- Spring Bulletin Board Ideas

Sometimes it is hard to come up with ideas for clever bulletins.

Sometimes it is more than I feel like doing.

Other times....I like it.

Here's what we have up in the cafeteria this month.

And it really wouldn't be April without some cute little bunnies.

These bunnies are really cute.

If you've made me any bulletins for spring, leave me a comment.

I'd love to see them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Things I love about my job -- Reason #2

Not everyone gets to say they laugh at work, but I do.


I laugh at work. 

I work was some fantastic people both in the kitchen and in the building.

I work with a manager that gave up time and money from her own paycheck to be sure there was money in the budget to keep me and my co-worker.

I have a co-worker who would not only appreciate this picture but attempt to recreate it with a smiley fry.  She makes me laugh every day.  Usually more than once.

I have the pleasure of working with a janitor that not only can catch a bat in less than five minutes but would be willing to shovel my snow covered driveway if my husband was out of town.

Our principal is not only someone whom I greatly respect but also someone I call friend.

Most, if not all, the teachers in the buidling know me by my first name and can tell when I'm having "one of those days". 

Most often everyone just notices how much fun we all are having in the kitchen. 

Trust me--everyone should be having as much fun at work as we do.

Photo credit -- The great Terry Border
Monday, April 18, 2011

Things I love about my job - reason #1

Lately I've been posting a lot of complaints.

I've been posting a lot of negatives.

I've been posting a lot of downs.

This week I'm not going to do that.  This week I'm posting some things I love about both my jobs. 

I'm posting reasons why I continue to do what I do even when I often don't want to.

The number one reason I'm a lunch lady....


I love those little dorks.  Most of the time.  Every now and then I let them get to me but for the most part I like being around them.  I like when they get stuck in their jackets and they ask me for help.  I like when they ask me to sign their yearbooks.  I like when they tell me really long stories about how their front "toof" finally fell out.  I like when they see me without a hairnet and a hat and they can't figure out how I know them.

Last week the preschool class in our building was all lined up waiting to get a drink at the water fountain.  I was walking by and couldn't help but notice that after each little kid got a drink they quickly headed to the end of the line and began to do hamstring stretches against the wall.

It was impossibly cute and I couldn't resist stopping to stretch along with them.

One of the little preschoolers explained to me how to do it and then proceeded to tell me what a good stretcher I was. 

That's good stretcher.

Leave me a comment and tell me at least one thing that you like about your job.
Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lessons from the Lunchlady: urine happens

I must be ready for summer because my weeks keep getting longer. 

We even had a half day this week and it didn't feel like it.

When you add the crappy weather, the forced multiple days of inside recess, and the fact that I had multiple meetings in the evenings all about the same budget bulls**t, this week felt endless.

Here's what I learned:

  • HAMBURGER HELPER:  This meal would not be on Jamie Oliver's healthy schools wish list.  Government hamburger continues to frighten me and make me thankful that I do not eat red meat.
  • SMILEY FRIES.  My co-worker and I had so much fun making this video about the demise of the smiley fries.  Clearly, you need to have a sick sense of humor to work in the cafeteria.
  • AR REWARDS.  If students in our building read so many minutes they are rewarded with an Accelerated Reader reward.  The third marking period reward was a Disney movie called Earth.  It is a documentary about our wonderful planet, but I don't think that K-3 students are the target audience.  Every time an animal was about to be eaten by another animal the kids made some fantastic noises.  I'm pretty sure that I saw some teachers covering their own faces.  Mind you, it's Disney, so it's not nearly as graphic as the Discovery Channel version.  What the kids remembered?  Darth Vader was telling the story.
  • URINE HAPPENS.  Even in the lunch line.  Sometimes you just can't hold it any longer and it spills down your legs, fills your shoes and puddles in the lunch line.
  • GREEN BEANS.  Only 7 kids out of 170 ate their green beans and next year, thanks to our newer healthier federal guidelines I will have to offer things like kale, lima beans and collard greens.  Hmmmm, that sounds slightly pointless.
What did you learn this week?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Things that seemed a little off about today

Today was just one of those days.

Yesterday the weather was beautiful.  Spring was in the air.  The temperature was high, the air was sweet and it felt good to be alive.  Today it was nothing but rain, rain and more rain.

I felt off.  People kept asking me what was wrong.

The answer:  I don't know.  I just felt off.

I don't think I was the only one.  Here are just a few things I noticed today that seemed a little off.

  1. I actually saw someone at a gas station picking up a pack of cigarettes wearing one of these.  Remember these things?  Banana Clips?  Can you seriously imagine that conversation?  "I need to run and get some smokes, but it's raining and dreary out.  I think I'll just pull my hair up into this mane.  It always looks good like that." HUGE FAIL.
  2. Every day at school, along with the Pledge of Allegiance, our students say a pledge that includes the line "I will treat others the way I would like to be treated."  Today it felt like they all forgot this part.
  3. I watched this tonight.

The entire episode was a gag fest.  Especially the meat demonstration.  But I will spare you all the details.  What was one of the main topics?  Flavored milk.  I thorn in my side in many posts.  I have seen with my own eyes students dumping 28 grams of sugar on their Lucky Charms to start the day.  What part of that screams healthy?  However, I've also seen what happens when chocolate milk is not offered and there are alot of tears and a lot of kids who won't take any milk, my oldest daughter being one of them.

4.  DWTS--Who told the big wigs at ABC that making the DWTS results show an hour long was a good idea.  It is killing me.  I so wish that Raising Hope was new tonight.

5.  School Budget Stories.  I feel like I've been spending the better part of my life working on school budget stories.  They all have the same doom and gloom feeling to them and I think they may be contributing to my bad mood.  BRING ON GRADUATIONS.    At least they are hopeful.

Did you notice anything odd today?
Monday, April 11, 2011

Why the Smiley Fries are no longer smiling

I was gonna save this delightful video until Friday, but I just can't keep it to myself.  My co-worker and I have a sick sense of humor.  We had too much fun with this.  The voice in the background telling us we need help....our principal.  LOL


Friday, April 8, 2011

Lessons from the Lunchlady: Some weeks are harder than others

This week has been endless.

Some weeks are like that.

Here's what I learned:

Carrot Juice is intimidating;  We had a visiting Chef this week in the cafeteria and by Chef I mean the blender salesman who went to culinary school but sells blenders now because it is more lucrative.  He made carrot juice in his really cool contraption The kids were uncertain.  He received mixed reviews.
Spit-takes actually occur.  When one of the kindergartners tried the carrot juice for the first time they actually spit it out directly onto the face of the kindergartner sitting next to them.
Child attire leaves much to be desired.  The fact that this shirt is available in size 7/8 or even 9/10 is disturbing.  It depicts the side view of a skull and inside the skull is an embryo still attached to the umbilical cord floating around inside the skull.  It is apparently for the band TOOL.  I don't know what they sing and I don't really want to find out.
Questionable decisions.  Is it illegal to tattoo your child?  No but most of us wouldn't do that.  Is it illegal to get your child's ears pieced?  No.  Some of us have done that.  I am not opposed to an earring but allowing your 1st grader to get an ear gauge seems oh so wrong.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it won't really happen.
Bats and vomit.  Some days you have a little bit of both and that's when you thank God for your custodian.
Expecting too much.  Expecting that significantly cutting the hours of the least expensive people will have any positive effect on any budgetary concerns seems a little laughable.

What did you learn this week?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Writer's Workshop: If you really knew me...

If you really knew me you would know that my feelings are easily hurt.

If you really knew me you would know that I feel like the book I wrote will never be read by a publisher.

If you really knew me you would know that I don't eat processed meat.

If you really knew me you would know that my relationship with my mom is a work in progress.

If you really knew me you would know that I care deeply for my friends and would do just about anything to help them.

If you really knew me you would know that my kids fight like beta fish, all puffed up and threatening, but love each other anyway.

If you really knew me you would know that I don't take things very seriously, but the things I do take seriously really mean a lot to me.

If you really knew me you would know that I LOVE to make people laugh.

If you really knew me you would know that I met my husband when I was 16 years old and we both worked at Burger King.

If you really knew me you would know that while I never pictured myself where I currently am in my life I am for the most part happy.

If you really knew me you would know that I am happy (most of the time) writing stories about speed humps and school budgets for the afternoon newspaper.

If you really knew me you would know that I am happy (most of the time) serving lunch to K-3 students.

This post was inspired by Mama Kat's writer's workshop
Go visit her.  She's awesome.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Lunchlady Humor

Photo credit Terry Border
follow and appreciate his work here

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Feeling like the weather

I think I'm being tortured by the weather.  It seems my mood is changing just as rapidly as the direction of the wind.  Yesterday is was beautiful.  In the 70s, jacket not required.  Today it is bleak, dreary and chilly.  Sort of like my mood.

I'm overwhelmed with all that I need to accomplish...none of which I really want to do. 

I had a meeting yesterday for the newspaper which was torturous and I still have two more meetings to cover for the paper this week. 

I had a PTO meeting yesterday that for some reason gave me the feeling of cliff falling.

We have to get Little G. two t-ball practices and squeeze in Boy Scouts.

Oldest is babysitting on Wednesday and needs a ride.

My in laws announced they are coming to visit this weekend.

I have at least four loads of laundry begging to be washed.

I need to make three cards for a friend of of them she needs by Thursday.

My supervisor is visiting on Thursday to announce just how many hours and/or employees we will lose at the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

Friday my co-worker is off and we have no sub.

Is it any wonder why I want to go back to bed?  Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with the weather.
Monday, April 4, 2011

The Drama of the Pinewood Derby

As I am sure other mother's can attest, daughters come with a lot of drama.  It is often hard for me to keep track of who is friends with who, who is (gasp) "dating" who, and who is texting who.  Baring in mind that my oldest is only 12!  UGH.  More good times to come.

That being said, I spent 4.5 hours on Saturday at the Pinewood Derby.  Male Drama.

The "boys" spent hours on their cars.  Of course, we know that the dads (or the scout leaders or an occasional mom) did most of the work.  My son was uncertain about the entire event.  He's not real certain about boy scouts yet.

But once he saw the track and kind of understood the concept of what was about to happen, I think he got a little bit excited.

My hubby told me that they would be racing a least four times.  Why?  I asked.   I thought it would be the Tigers racing the tigers, the wolves racing the wolves and so on and so on.  Nope.  Each kid randomly races whoever they randomly race. 

For example, Little G had to race a bunch of older kids in his first race.  Their cars were a little more elaborate, but still weighed 5 ounces or less.  That's the rule.

He came in dead last.

The idea behind the four "heats" is that each boy scout will then have the opportunity to race in each lane.  That way no one can say "I lost because I was in the slow lane."

Little G. was dead last in his second heat. 

He started to notice.

After two hours of this I was starting to feel the need for medication.

When Little G. was again dead last in his third heat, I actually considered taking him home, though I think my husband would have been heartbroken.

On the way to the bathroom, I told Little G to hurry because he didn't want to miss his last race and he said, "I'm pretty sure I know what's going to happen."  I understand that someone has to come in last but I was really starting to pray for 3rd.  Just one 3rd place.  Does that seem like a lot to ask?

Apparently, because he came in last again.

Then to add insult to injury they put in in the bronze cup race.  This race was against some siblings of some scouts.  Some girls.  Their cars were shaped like flowers.  Little G. came is last again. 

He started to cry.

He's seven.

He lost five times in a row. 

I don't really like the Pinewood Derby.
Friday, April 1, 2011

Lessons from the Lunchlady: Don't Be FOOLing around

This week, like most weeks in the cafeteria, was quite the adventure.  It was filled with a little laughter, a touch of blood and a lot of grass.

Here's what I learned:
  • GRASS.  Serving a spinach salad with hot bacon dressing to children 9 and under isn't a good idea.  You will be peppered with questions like "What is the grass for?"  and "Do you think we are animals?"  and "Why would anyone eat leafs?"
  • TRASH BELONGS IN THE TRASH.  Seems logical yet nearly every day straw papers are discarded and thrown on the floor, spoons are dropped and not picked up, and this week someone left a bloody tissue in the line.  After that, my co-worker decided to remind the 2nd graders where their trash belongs.
  • COLOR BLENDING HAIRNETS.  I would be remiss, if I didn't mention that I learned this week that hairnets are available in colors that match your hair shade.  Who knew?  And who cares?  Apparently the sub that filled in for me whilst I was on my field trip cared.  It's mind boggling to me that a sub would care that much.
  • THE COUNT.  Everyday we get a count.  Everyday it tells us how many kids are getting hot lunch, how many kids are getting PB&J and how many kids are getting alternate.   Knowing this is supposed to help us and keep us from wasting food.  Everyday, as the kids are coming through the line, they change their mind.  It's actually becoming rather comical.  It's a good thing I don't eat much processed food.  At least we always have some extra.
  • BEING ABLE TO COUNT.  The above count means little to nothing if you can't count.  This week I managed to make 30 extra bag lunches and nearly 50 more than needed servings of fish nuggets.  At least I realized my error before we actually baked the nuggets.  Personally, I'm blaming it on the cold medicine I took, but I have my doubts.
  • APRIL FOOLS.  Elementary kids love April Fools Day.  I told a handful of 1st graders that we ran out of lunch today and that all I had to offer was saltines and cheese sticks.  Their faces were priceless!  April Fools!
What did you learn this week?
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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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