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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lessons from the Lunchlady: guard your va jay jay

This week in the school cafeteria the kids learned that it's good to try new things and that a little green won't kill you.

I learned:

It's possible to run out of asparagus. Seriously? I never would have guessed those kids would not only be open to trying asparagus but that some would actually be excited about it.

Refried beans did not meet with the same enthusiasm. Sadly the refried beans I served with nacho dippers this week were not nearly as popular. It's all about appearence with K-3 kids and if it looks like baby poop well then... Honestly, they weren't that bad.

Say my name, say my name. I'm happy to report that I now know about 95% of the names of the new students in our building who actually eat lunch. The others remain a mystery....

If you're waiting for the milk man... Wait, what did you think I was gonna say? I had only 12 milk in the house for breakfast as I had significantly high breakfast countd. Milkdude is supposed to arrive BEFORE breakfast. Not at the start of breakfast. Oh well... Everything worked out.

Guard your va jay jay. I mean who would have thought that by simply bringing dishes into the dish room you could be plowed in the crotch by a random dish rack. My coworker didn't see me. I need to make A LOT more noise.

What did you learn this week?

PS. I'm going to attempt to feature photos from our actual lunches. This week's photo features our Tuesday Chef Salads. They tasted just as great as the looked.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Three, Two, One...Let Go

I have trouble letting things go.  I have trouble moving on.  I let little things annoy me.  A lot.  I'm working on it. I learned today that only 10 percent of our happiness can be predicted by our outside circumstances.  The rest of it, well, that's all in our head.

My dad used to have a sign in his office that said something like, "Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it."

What it all comes down to is making up your mind to be happy. A lot of random crap happened this month and for a while all I could focus on was the negative. 

It felt overwhelming and it made me loose sight of all the things in my life that I need to be grateful for.  Everything is not always going to run smoothly and I need to learn how to be OK with that.

Let the reprogramming begin.  Let's take sometime to blog about what we're grateful for.  Let's take some time to share some intentional acts of kindness.  Let's be happy in the present.


Monday, September 24, 2012

An Open Letter to Our Aunt Sis

Dear Sis,

I can't believe your gone? And so suddenly.

I'm not sure what my MIL will do without you. You guys were so tight. You were by far her closest sibling. I think she is trying to be strong, but she is hurting.

I think even after you fell down those stairs we all believed that you would recover. We heard the doctors but we chose to ignore them. What did they know? They didn't even know you.

There were small signs that you were saying goodbye and we thank you for those last smiles. I know my MIL will not forget them. Of all her eight siblings, I never would have thought you would leave us first.

You and I shared a birth date and because of that we had a sort of kinship. I will miss our dueling birthday cards.

Even though I know in my heart that you are at last reunited with your husband, I am deeply saddened that I will not again hear your sweet laugher.

Please tell Grandma we miss her.

Until we meet again.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lessons from the Lunchlady: the battle of Green Bean vs. Celery

Happy Friday!  This week was a bustle of excitement in the cafeteria.  We had some of our largest counts to date and I think the kindergartners are starting to get the swing of things. 
Here's what I learned.

  • Peanut Butter Popsicle:  It's important to get the frozen uncrustables out of the freezer as soon as you come in.  If you don't, you will realize at lunch time that you have no alternate and will have to change to yogurt munchables.  Turns out some kids like yogurt, cheese and goldfish crackers more than pizza.  BONUS.
  • There is no macaroni on my tray, said a little kindergartner who took the wrong lunch by mistake. It truly is disappointing when you sit down and realize everyone's lunch looks better than yours.
  • Who's your teacher?  I asked a first grader in the lunch line this week who her teacher was.  Her response, "I have no idea but it's that lady right over there."  Seriously?  It's almost been a month?
  • Celery kicked Green Beans Ass:  In an unprecedented match up, Celery came from behind to literally kick the crap out of green beans in a head to head.  I guess even after four years I can still be surprised.
  • Is that a spy camera?  I was being interviewed about the recent changes to school lunch and the videographer had a microphone near the lunch line.  A couple of kids thought it was a spy camera.  I think they've been reading a little too much LUNCHLADY.  I so need some of those fish stick nunchuks.
What did you learn this week?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An open letter to Michelle Obama,

Dear Michelle,

I was hoping we could chat about the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2012.

First, I just wanna say that I think your heart was in the right place. I imagine you were thinking let's get some healthy foods into these kids and I also image that you were thinking how hard can that be.

The answer is pretty darn hard.

I mean have you read this document? It's like 11dy billion pages?

Here's a snippet:

Offer fruits and vegetables as two separate meal components;
• Offer fruit daily at breakfast and lunch;
• Offer vegetables daily at lunch, including specific vegetable subgroups weekly (dark green, orange, legumes, and other as defined in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines) and a limited quantity of starchy vegetables throughout the week;
• Offer whole grains: half of the grains would be whole grain-rich upon implementation of the rule and all grains would be whole-grain rich two years post implementation;
• Offer a daily meat/meat alternate at breakfast;
• Offer fluid milk that is fat-free (unflavored and flavored) and low-fat (unflavored only);
• Offer meals that meet specific calorie ranges for each age/grade group;
• Reduce the sodium content of meals gradually over a 10-year period through two intermediate sodium targets at two and four years post implementation;
• Prepare meals using food products or ingredients that contain zero grams of trans fat per serving;
• Require students to select a fruit or a vegetable as part of the reimbursable meal;

Most of the above is self explanatory and in a perfect world would also be implemented at home. But can we get real here for a minute?

Requiring a student to take a veggie and or a fruit will not get them to eat it. Creating healthy garbage cans really isn't the goal, is it? Lowering the serving size on meat/meat alternates will not make kids eat black beans. Confusing food service personel with random vegetable serving requirements based on the color of the vegetable is just asinine. That whole leafy greens only count as half the serving size is really mind boggling? How big of a salad does a first grader need? Can't we just serve things in half cup servings and allow our kiddos to take up to two? Who eats 6 ounces of green beans? Does Sasha? I doubt she did when she was five.

Besides did you know green beans are a fruit!

For what it's worth here's what I know. If given the opportunity to have one starchy vegetable a month, kids will pick the starchy over just about anything else. The only benefit of offering asparagus is that I get to hear little kids ask me what spear guts are. This may come as a shock to you, but there are plenty of kids that can't tell the difference between peaches and carrots. If you cut the rind of of the watermelon they have no idea what it is. Some kiddos don't even know that bananas need peeled!

Having pudding once or twice a week will not make you fat. Not moving. Living in front of theTV. Spending more time online than IRL will make you fat. Consuming soda, chips and microwave burritos will make you fat. Having overweight parents will increase your chances of becoming overweight.

Eating all five offered components of your school lunch will not make you fat.

More than 32 million kids participate in the free or reduced lunch program and I think it's important that we not only provide them something healthy to eat we also provide them something they like IN REASONABLE PORTION SIZES.

School lunch doesn't make kids fat, it never has and it never will.


A lunch lady in PA

Monday, September 17, 2012

Made by Me Monday

What have I been working on?

Sadly nothing.

I'm having crafting withdrawl.

I stop by all your blogs and see all your fantastic creations and I think, "What have I been doing with all my time?"

And then I remember...

I started working full time.

I decided to continue to be the PTO president (a blog post in and of itself).

I'm still the yearbook chair of the elementary.

I am still, for now, covering three school districts and one township for the newspaper.  Starting next month I'm going to have to cut some of these.

My kid is playing soccer every weekend and therefore has to practice twice a week.

My son is in boy scouts and is selling popcorn and getting ready for his big Halloween parade.

My kids are taking musical instrument lessons.

I'm hosting book club this month.

Maybe I'll get some crafting done next week....
Friday, September 14, 2012

Lessons from the lunchlady: I'll have the cheese balls

This week was typically chaotic but filled with lots of laughter. Thankfully I didn't implode any noodles.

Here's what I learned in the lunchroom:

Pass the cheese balls, I mean the sweet tots. This week we served sweet potato tator tots that looked exactly like cheese balls. "Ooooo I'll have the cheese balls!". How cute is that?

It's all about the slushies. A little kindergartener came wondering on through the line. When she didn't pick up her tray or even stop we called to her. "Don't you want your lunch?" "No, I just wanna a slushy." Sorry, hon, they may be 100% fruit juice but they alone don't make a qualifying meal.

Meatballs + cheese = yes please. It's super cute when the little ones get excited about their food. "Yous guys put cheese on the meatball subs! Wow this is the bested day ever."

Pass the rockoli. Today we had broccoli dippers which are just raw pieces of broccoli and low fat ranch dressing. Listening to those little kids ask for rockoli, brickoli, and trees made me smile.

Name the cafe. Turns out our cafeteria is the only one in the district without a name so I thought it would be fun to hold a contest and have the kids come up with the name. Winner gets some really cool Lunch Lady books and other reading material along with their winning name on the menu starting in November.

What did you learn this week?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I had better posture, but I don't.

My breasts are small.

My hair is always an unruly mess.

I wish my feelings weren't easily hurt, but they are.

I wish that I could truly not to care what others think, but sadly I can't.

For the next few weeks I am playing along with Pish Posh. Our theme this week is friendships and insecurities.

Personally, I blame most of mine on this ad campaign.

I was twelve and my namesake restaurant came out with an ad campaign that could easily be changed to "Where's the boobs?". Hahahahah (insert eye roll here).

I think I started curling my shoulders then.

Now that I'm no longer twelve (cough, cough) I've started to put a lot less weight into whether or not my breast are big enough. In fact, my entire attitude about them changed when I successfully breast fed all of my kids for the first year of their lives.

Sadly, my posture didn't improve along with it.

Pish has asked me to be honest and I'm trying to. I've hear it said that it takes 21 days to form habit. My oldest daughter and I are attempting to become each others posture police.

Sadly, like my crazy-ass hair, she has also inherited my posture.

We're working on it together. Here's hoping that being accountability partners we'll be able to walk a little taller.

Who knows by the time this challenge is over I may be 5'2 and 1/2 inches tall. LOL

If you could change one thing about you what would it be?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The saga of the never ending mammogram

As you know, I went for my first mammogram in August and it was an interesting experience.  When I say interesting I mostly mean ridiculous.

I mean there were nipple stickers.

There were cold metal plates.

There were strangers touching my breast. 

A few days later they called me back.

"You need a diagnostic mammogram," they said.

"Um, what did I just have?" I asked.

"You had a baseline mammogram and you need a diagnostic mammogram on your right breast."

"What's wrong with my white breast?"

"We aren't certain.  That's why you need a diagnostic mammogram."

So I scheduled a diagnostic mammogram, which went something like this.  Enter the women's only medical center.  Put on the same green shirt that everyone else is wearing.  Get new nipple stickers.  Have your right breast manipulated in multiple ways.  Sit down with radiologist in a room surrounded by pictures of your breast.  Have him say things like. "While there are white spots here, here and here we aren't sure how long you have had them.  Therefore I can't say with any certain one way or another if these are just benign calcium deposits.  You will have to come back for another scan in six months."


Your response is "I don't know."  Isn't that why I came in for a diagnostic mammogram?  Couldn't we have just waited six months from the first one?

Anyway, I bet you can guess where this is going.  How many mammograms are you allowed to have in one year?  Holler out the answer? 


Only one.  Even if they find something "questionable" on the first.  Anything else is considered medical and if you have any type of deductible on your insurance then you are responsible for those costs. 


My bill was $305.75 but thankfully my insurance kick in $33.63.  Phew.  That's a real relief.


After multiple phone calls it looks like I am SOL on this bill and likely SOL on the bill I will incur in February when I go back again.  Just in case there are any insurance companies reading this I just want to pose one question to them.  What is more expensive preventive care or medical treatment?

I plan on sending $33.63 a month with AYFKM written in the memo line until it is paid in full.  If they insurance company can pay that much than it seems like a reasonable monthly payment to me.
Monday, September 10, 2012

The Blessings of Friendships

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time then you'll remember some of the sage advice I like to pass on to my children.

This advice includes "Surround yourself with people who make your world better and avoid those who do not."

Last week I had a really shitty week and all I could do was focus on the negative.

I couldn't find the light.

I was dwelling on all of the negative and not capable of seeing all the positive.  But then I had an epiphany.

I have the best friends and family.  I've followed my own advice and I've surrounded myself with good people.  Granted, there are a few nuts sprinkled in there but that just keeps things fun.

Things happen.  Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad.  Sometimes they are very bad.  Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it.

If I hadn't stopped focusing on the negative, I might have missed all these blessings.

My neighbors mowed my grass.

My friend and neighbor fixed my fence when a storm broke an entire section.

My coworkers made me laugh about noodles.

Other coworkers offered to help in anyway they could.

Another friend offered me a free pass should I need to fly to Singapore to check on my sick hubby.

My blogging buddies also checked in on me.

I received countless text.  Numerous phone calls and even a bring-over-some-wine visit.

Hubby is much better.  Thank you all for your prayers and concerns.

It's truly a blessing to have such wonderful friends.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lessons from the lunchlady: You can't fill another's shoes, you have to make your own path

It's hard to believe that this was a four day workweek. It felt exhausting for many reasons.

When I took the manager's job, I realized that there would be a learning curve. That being said, I don't think I realized just how much of a learning curve. After telling my old boss that I found her shoes hard to fill, she said "You can't fill another's shoes, you have to make your own path."

This week was trailblazing. Here's what I learned.

Noodles can disintegrate. Apparently steaming noodles is an art form that I clearly have not yet mastered. Turns out depending on the size, shape and thickness of the noodle some steam a lot faster that others. For example, egg noodles steam very quickly. Rotini...not so fast. Wanna know what happens to them if you steam them to long? Mashed potato noodles... And NO we did not serve these ones.

The walk-in hates me. The walk-in cooler has a way of breaking only when I am having a stressful week. While I realize that it is an inanimate object who cannot possibly know my stress level, it always sounds its alarm when my stress level is already high.

Some kindergarteners have a lot of nerve. This week I took a break from serving and headed to the check out register. After only six kindergarten days of school some of those little angels actually get irritated If they still have to say their name. One of them rolled her eyes at me and said, "I say this everyday. How long till you remember?" I asked if she knew my name and she said, "No." So I told her that I will remember her name and all 67 others kindergartners names once she remembers mine. Until then, she can stop at the register and say her name EVERYDAY.

Birthday baskets lift my mood. If you order one in advance, our kitchen will deliver a birthday basket snack to your kiddo. It was an initiative established to help stop the onslaught of cupcakes brought to the school. We had our first basket on Friday. It was sooo much fun to deliver.

I work with the BESTEST people. I've said it before, but it needs said again. The people who work in my building are like family to me. I had a very rough week filled with tons of bad news. The kind of news that makes you ask AYFKM? The week ended finding out my hubby was hospitalized in Singapore with a nasty virus. That makes you feel very far away and alone. I am ever so greatful for my supportive friends and family.

What did you learn this week?
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Some books I read this summer

In June I posted my summer goals and one of them was to read five books.

Amazingly, I was able to accomplish this.

Here are some mini reviews.

I won a copy of this book from fellow blogger Pish and I have to tell you that it was so funny that I cried.

Jenny Lawson must somehow be related to me. She has a way of making you feel like a sister through this entire book. In fact, I dare you to read it and not snort laugh. She covers the highs and lows of parenting, what it is like to live with a taxidermist as a father, what happens to you when you go on a laxative diet and how twitter can help when buzzards are attempting to dig up your dead dog.

My favorite quote: “Because you are defined not by life's imperfect moments, but by your reaction to them. And because there is joy in embracing - rather than running from - the utter absurdity of life.”

I simply love Jennifer Weiner. This book is clever. It covers the story of four women, Bettina, India, Annie and Jules. One decides to donate her eggs for her own personal reasons. One decides to be a surrogate for her own personal reasons and one decides to adopt a baby for her own personal reasons. Bettina decides that she needs to know what lies beneath these reasons and is surprised by what she uncovers.

This book takes many unexpected twists and the characters are well developed and incredibly likable. Like I said, I simply love Jennifer Weiner.

This was a book club pick and it was easy to relate to. I think anyone who has ever parented a child can relate. Smoker is hilarious and her take on things is realistic.

This book was also a book club book. I can't say that I would read another Karen White book but I will say the voice in this book was impressive. The storyline was silty unbelievable, but the voice was fantastic.

It is told from the point of view of two women--one in contemporary time and the other living in the 1800s. While I do not believe is reincarnation the tempo of the book was fast paced enough to keep my attention.

It is not a book I would read again, but it does pose some unique questions.

I have been a huge Jay Asher fan since the publication of thirteen reasons why and this book was equally intriguing.

Imagine it is 1996 and nearly half of all high school students have never been online. American online is sending out AOL cd-roms in attempts to entice. Image you load the disk and suddenly you can see your Facebook page from 15 years in the future.

Facebook hasnt even been invented.

Would you alter your life to positively change your future?

Would you pick a different college in order to avoid meeting your future husband?

Would you tell a friend she's about to become a teen mother?

Loved this book.

What have you been reading?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How can it be Tuesday when it feels so much like Monday

Today started off a little rough.

It's hard to get back into the swing of things after a long weekend.

School Breakfast started out with vomit, which is never a good way to start the day.

We also had soup for lunch which is complicated when sprinkled with kindergartners.

I had to organize that freezer and boy is it cold in there. Like really cold in there. I had on a sweatshirt, gloves and a hat but that really wasn't enough. Need a winter coat.

Still can't get the bank bag to fit into the night depository so I have to get out of the car. Today it was raining.

Went to the dermatologist to have a spot on my lip looked at and they had to biopsy it. Lip + needle + razor = painful.

Biopsy on the lip now looks like a swollen bee sting filled with pus with the stinger still embedded. In other words it's damn sexy. I am thinking about telling everyone at school tomorrow that I was attacked by a landshark.

The icing on the cake?

I got billed nearly $300 for the diagnostic mammogram I was required to have as a result of the first mammogram. You know the diagnostic mammogram that was inconclusive and will require me to have another mammogram (no doubt also not covered) in February.


Are you sure it's not Monday?

Monday, September 3, 2012

An open letter to my 3rd grader

Dear Little G,

Third grader, already!  This year marks a few first as well as a few lasts.  It's the first year since kindergarten that you've had a different teacher.  It's the first year that you'll take the state standardized test.  It's the first year that you won't ride with me to school in the morning.  It's just too early to drag you in there.  It's nearly too early for me.

It's the LAST year that you will be in the same building as me.  It is the last year that you will be considered an elementary student.  It's the last year that I'll know all the kiddos in your class.

As you embark on this great adventure, here are a few things to remember.

  • Speak Up.  There is no such thing as a stupid question. If you are confused, tell someone.  If your feelings are hurt, speak up.  If you need something, raise your hand.  Help is never given to those who fail to ask.
  • Perfect is not a realistic goal.  I realize that our own government expects all students to be perfect in 2014, but listen to your mama.  "Perfect is not possible."  All you can do is your best.  Often that means that someone will be better.  That doesn't mean your best isn't good enough.
  • The more you read, the more you know.  This isn't just a Dr. Seuss quote, it's actually true.  The more you read, the more you absorb and the more you absorb, well the more you know. 
  • Always be yourself.  I think we forget this as we age.  Right now, you have no problem being yourself and I hope that never changes.  But sometimes, I realize that it might be hard to believe, but sometimes we change because we think others will like us.  If only, I were _______ (faster, better at sports, smarter) then so and so would like me.  That statement couldn't be farther from the truth.  BE YOURSELF NO MATTER WHOM YOU ARE WITH.
  • Call me Mommy.  Your the last of my children to still call me mommy.  The girls have already slipped into the mom phase.  While I am enjoying watching you grow, I also relish in the simplicity of "mommy" (at least for a little while longer).

Enjoy all that you can about third grade.  It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.


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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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