10.14.2009

Fitting In



I had my first run-in recently with the dreaded "public school social scene" and it wasn't pretty.

Something happened yesterday that I never thought would happen.... well, at least not until my daughter was in middle school... or high school.... Anyway, Marissa came home from school yesterday very upset. It took almost two hours for her to finally talk to me about what was bothering her - and an argument with her brother over who could tickle whom was the catalyst for her opening up... this is how our conversation went -

(Jake not wanting to be tickled) - "No, sissy, no! Owwwwwweeee."
(Marissa) - Jakey doesn't want to play with me either, I'm having such a bad day."
(Me) - "Why do you feel you are having a bad day sweetpea?"
(Marissa) - "Nobody would play with me at recess today AGAIN and now my baby brother won't even play with me either. I'm having the worst day ever!"
(Me) - "Ummm...... why didn't you play with anyone at recess?"
(Marissa) - "I asked everybody and nobody wanted to play with me! I had to just sit by myself on the ground."
(Me) - Speechless from having ugly flashbacks of instances when I was picked on in school.... and by the fact that I cannot think of anything to say to help her feel better. :(

I never thought this would happen to Marissa so soon and I'm really perplexed as to how a little girl who has always been a social butterfly can feel like she doesn't fit in with her classmates. One of my theories is the "big fish, little pond / little fish, big pond" theory - she went from being the "leader" of her preschool class to feeling like she can't find her place amongst her new classmates. But how in the world do I explain this to her? And what can I say to her to help her cope with all of the instances this may happen in the future..... because I know very well that this will be something that happens again... whether it's tomorrow or ten years from now when she ends up in one of those oh-so-great (not) high school girlfriend spats. :( I think the key is for Marissa to feel confident to be herself, but I'm not sure how easy it will be to teach this life skill to a kindergartener.....

I did have an inkling that something was up one day when I was home with Jake (he had a fever) and we went for a little walk in the afternoon when he felt better. Marissa's class was actually outside for recess when we went past the school. She didn't see us, but I spotted her right away and my eyes followed her as she skipped all over the blacktop in-between the equipment. I expected her to be playing or talking to any of the kids at any moment... but just kept on skipping around all by herself. She would stop here and there to look around or to sit down, but she never once went over to socialize with her classmates. This really concerned me because I had never seen her do this before; but I tried to convince myself that I was overreacting and that she would be fine. But when she became so upset yesterday, it made me realize that this just might become a real issue that we will have to deal with fairly soon.

Maybe I am overreacting... maybe I am just a concerned mommy who's heart aches when her daughter is upset over friends and school.... I'm just like any mommy. I know what makes my daughter unique and wonderful and wonder why on earth others can't see these things for themselves. No matter what, I need to do some research on this to find some strategies to help her cope. I honestly never saw this coming so soon and feel like such an incompetent mom for not knowing what to do to help her through it.

10.11.2009

Savory Seger Sunday: Mom's Chili





This recipe was made by my mother during the fall and winter month's as I was growing up. It's a bit of a twist on "normal" chili, but has remained my favorite until til now. I made my first batch for our family last weekend and it was GREAT! :)



Mom's Chili

Ingredients:

- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 regular cans tomato sauce
- 2 regular cans diced tomatoes
- 1 regular can light red kidney beans (drained)
- 1 regular can dark red kidney beans (drained)
- 4 - 8 oz. macaroni
- The following to taste: parsley, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, pepper, salt
- Shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Brown ground beef in a skillet. Meanwhile, heat water for macaroni to boiling. Add macaroni. In a large stockpot, mix tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, and seasoning together. Cook over medium heat. Drain macaroni and beef once they are done, then add to the stockpot with other ingredients. Simmer covered for about 10 - 15 more minutes. Add cheese and serve.

*even better as leftovers for work or for the next day!

10.08.2009

CHI-CA-GO, CHI-CA-GO!

Our family recently had the privilege of attending a friends' wedding in Chicago. Well, I shouldn't say just "friend." Jake and Alan (hubby) have been in separable since they were little he is also a cousin of mine through marriage. Natalie (his gorgeous bride) and I have quickly become good friends as well since we met in person last year at Alan and I's wedding. Anyway, the wedding was beautiful and so was Nat... the food wasn't too bad either! You know I love me some good food :) The day after the wedding, Alan and I took the opportunity to take the kids into the city. It's one of our favorite places we have visited together and we wanted the kids to experience it too. There's just something about Chicago that is spectacular and beautiful at the same time.

So our first major vacation as a foursome (that's Al and I with the kids in tow) included visiting the Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier, strolling through Millennium Park, checking out the Lego Store on Michigan Ave., and going up into the Sear's Tower - I refuse to call it Willis Tower. Both Jake and Marissa were in absolute awe once we were on the Skydeck, looking down at the city below. That's what you get when you bring a couple of young kids from small-town Ohio in the heart of a big city. :) Below are photos of the wedding as well as our trip into the city. If you would like to see the rest of our Chicago photos - you can see them here in our Facebook album. Enjoy!

Family photo by The Bean.

Looking down from the top of the Sear's Tower.


Yes, this picture is of Marissa in one of the new Skyboxes! She really wanted this picture even though she looks terrified. :)

The boys looking out of the Skydeck.

Fountain in Millennium Park.

Can you believe this guy was not a statue? Marissa thought he was pretty cool. :)

Jakey on Navy Pier with the skyline in the background.

Marissa and Nanna - she came along for the trip! She was such a trooper! :)


Pictures from the wedding (sorry bad lighting and our camera do not equal good results!):





Congratulations Jake & Natalie! We love you both and wish you nothing but the very best!

10.07.2009

Countdown to the OAMM Tweet-Up!


Unless you've been hiding under a rock the last few months, you probably know that I LOVE to participate in Once A Month Cooking with my sister. We cook an entire month's worth of food (a few lunches, breakfasts, and mostly dinners) all in one long (very long) day in order to save ourselves time, money, and sanity throughout the rest of the month. My friend Tricia is the culprit who talked me into getting involved in this pastime and I could not thank you enough for it.... She is now doing the ultimate good deed for OAMC participants and is hosting a Tweet-Up this Saturday evening! What is a Tweet-Up?, you say? A Tweet-Up is tied to Twitter (the website of which I am constantly reminded by family and friends is a narcissistic waste of time...) Participants can show up in person to the event if they can attend - and if they cannot attend, they can participate in real time by following the event on Twitter - pretty cool if you ask me, not by any means a waste of time! Because the Tweet-Up is taking place near my town, my sister and I will have the awesome privilege of attending the event in person. Tricia has planned a spectacular night - cocktails, recipe demonstrations, kitchen appliance demonstrations, networking, and over $3,000 in door prizes!!! I can't wait! Among the prizes (some that I am really hoping to win) are - a pair of Crocs of your choice, children's toys, food processors, slow cookers, and gorgeous Longaberger baskets! I hear there are still a few in-house reservation spots left... if you are interested in attending, go here to register and grab one of those coveted spots! If you wish to follow the event via Twitter, just search for #oamm.

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