Back to School – Quick and Easy School Lunches

Quick and Easy School Lunches - ExtraordinaryMommy.comPeanut butter sandwiches. Almost every single day last year my small people requested a peanut butter sandwich, and I complied. Now, there are three things you could say about that: 1) I’m giving them the food they would eat and 2) I’m incredibly lazy. Both are probably accurate. I DID know they liked it. I DID know they would eat it. And yes, it certainly made that one small area of parenting just a little bit easier. But it definitely didn’t award me a gold star in ‘lunches’ when it came to parenting.

So, this year, determined to do better, I started researching.  Or crowd-sourcing. Or looking online. I asked my friends on Facebook. And the first few people jumped off my page with ‘GO TO PINTEREST’ and then my brain exploded… because people? One of the first things I saw was THIS: It is a cherry tomato, cucumber cut out with a cookie cutter and an individual shrimp on a popsicle stick. Sure it is cute, but oh-so-very-time-consuming and my kids just aren’t going to eat that.  (I link because I don’t want to take the picture…. you know how I feel about that :) )

So, I asked AGAIN and this time qualified – OTHER THAN PINTEREST. I wanted real options. Something that I could create in a reasonable period of time and that, *gasp*, my kids might make on their own. And that they would EAT.


Here are some suggestions…. from me, from my small people, from other fabulous mothers I know.

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Back To School – The Top 5 Best Things About It (According to ME – The Mom)

Back to School 2013My small people have officially reached the age where saying you are excited to go back to school is no longer considered ‘cool’.  It is now much more ‘in’ to wrinkle your nose in distaste, to roll your eyes, to screech in horror, or if you are MY CHILD and all of the aforementioned are unacceptable when speaking to another adult (and just might render you grounded the first few weeks of school) you struggle not to mumble, smile a little and say, ‘I can’t wait to see my friends’.

Now, I know this to be true, but the fear of being eaten by the never-before-seen, yet frequently mentioned, homework monster still has them on edge.  Even now, two weeks in and we are still trying to get used to the whole process.  Scratch that, I’M not trying to get used to it, THEY are.

I love it.

Sure, I may have had my teary-eyed moments as I felt that age jump that can only accompany the first day of school: one moment they are 1st and 3rd graders enjoying Summer and they next, they are brand-new 2nd and 4th graders.  It is as though they aged 365 days in 24 hours.  But even that wisdom can’t temper my enthusiasm.

I am excited.  Here’s why:

The top 5 Best Things about Back to School (According to the resident adult)

Soooo…. agree or disagree?  What have been the best moments, FOR YOU, about Back-to-school?

That Mom Award I Didn’t Win….

I was watching out the window….  you know, pretending NOT to be watching out the window.

He hopped out of the car first, turning around to help his big sister down.

As they made their way up the front walk, their second full day of school already a memory, she moved into the lead…clearly the expert in being dropped off after school. She turned around a few times, making sure her kindergarten brother was close behind.

I watched discreetly.  They were smiling and hurrying to the door, anxious to spill the days events at my feet. I did a few mental hand-springs: I have this down.  Would you look at them?  Uniforms still mainly clean (despite the small dude’s morning run through the sprinklers with the dog – IN said uniform – he claimed he was HOT), backpacks on tired little shoulders, actually looking out for each other.  I thought to myself, “I bet they even ate their grapes.”

This back-to-school business is a piece of cake.  I win.  Whatever the Mom Award is for making it through the first couple of days of school with your kids and your sanity intact…..  that award is mine.

“Mommy?” sweet hands reach for mine .  Those big blue eyes have a serious question.

“Yes, Buddy…..”, I waited.

“Am I a girl?”  I can tell he’s worried.

“No, Coop… you are, most definitely, a boy.  Why?”

“Because a boy today said, ‘Are you a girl?’ to me and then pointed to the boy next to him and said, ‘You see Scott**, he’s not a girl…he’s a boy because he has a haircut like mine.”

Coop has the most amazing hair ever. Ever.  Thick. Blond. Wavy curl.  He has good hair, but it is longer than the other boys in his class.  We like it that way. More importantly, HE likes it that way.

I sat myself down right there on the floor in the entry way.  You know that whole ‘piece-of-cake’ thing?  Who was I kidding?  I mentally, and gracefully decline said Mom Award. I don’t know if I will ever be any good at this parenting thing.  Seeing your kids sad….or wounded… it doesn’t get easier.  And I know I won’t always have the answers. This is just the beginning.

I never took my eyes from his, “Buddy….  you know you are a boy.  Sometimes people say things that aren’t nice.  That’s ok.  We know that words can hurt.  You tell him you ARE a boy and walk away. ”

My sweet girl chimed in, brushing his blond hair from his forehead, “Buddy, its ok….  I’ll protect you.”

And with that?

I suddenly felt like I was winning again.

**name changed so as not to identify anyone in the class


Wordless Wednesday – Favorite School, Favorite Small People

My small people have now started school.  Two weeks ago, I took them to MY last school, the University of San Diego.  I snapped this picture (with my brand new Nikon!) and it shows everything I love about that small dude and small girl…. and everything that is gorgeous about USD.

The small girl plans to attend as a Freshman in 2021.

I Support My Child’s School My Way

Just as I imagined I would be married by 21 with kids by 23 (wrong and wrong), I pictured myself as the consummate Home Room Mom.  You know…. the one up at school 3 days a week, planning every holiday party with gusto?

I’m not.

At all.

And, gosh…. for my sweet girl’s sake, I really want to be…. because she is still at an age where she really wants me there.  And for the past few years I’ve been there, but my gusto has been a touch absent.  Don’t get me wrong, my happy face is firmly in place in the classroom, but my heart simply isn’t in the planning.of.every.single.detail as it relates to all class events.  And as much as I loved making these ornaments with Delaney’s class last Christmas (they are gorgeous, aren’t they?) they weren’t my idea – I had to ask on Twitter for something brilliant.  Fortunately, there are brilliant volunteer minds out there. (hint, hint friends… many of them are on Twitter and Facebook – ask and they will answer!)

Quite honestly, I don’t want to be in charge.

I just want to be there.

And for the first time, with both of my small people at the same school, for the same hours, I will be able to volunteer in small shifts, on a more regular basis.  I know schools need lots of hands and lots of hearts.  And what is beautiful, in my mind, about volunteering at your child’s school, is that you have the opportunity to give what you can, what works best for you and your family – be it an hour or ten, twenty dollars or two-hundred.

In the past, I volunteered for large events.  Events that required lots of woman hours – lots of planning. What I want to do now?  The small stuff.  What matters to me is what matters to my small people – that they see my face.  At school. I don’t want to volunteer for the big-behind-the scenes stuff….. I want to actually be there when I can.  I want to help at lunch time and recess, at school fairs and book events. When my reward is a giggle, a smile and a wave.  Maybe even a point and a whisper, “that’s my mommy”. They are still at an age when it is cool to see  ‘Mommy’ at the school. I’m smart enough to know that won’t last forever.  I just hope it lasts through this year.

I want to take advantage of that as long as I can.

free online sign up sheets with volunteerspot


I SUPPORT MY SCHOOL.. MY WAY! And I’m joining VolunteerSpot’s sponsored Back To School campaign to help raise visibility for parent involvement in schools.

Save time {and sanity} and get more parents involved at school with!

VolunteerSpot’s FREE online signup sheets make it easy to organize parents and signup to help for just about anything: classroom helpers, snack schedules, carnivals, library volunteers, parent-teacher conferences and more….  No more ‘Reply-All’ email chains or clipboard sign up sheets! Please share with your room mom, teachers and parent leaders…

Plus there’s a huge Sweepstakes on VolunteerSpot’s Facebook page!
Win $500 worth of school supplies for YOUR School! Enter here

A Letter to A First Grade Teacher: Take Care of My Girl

Dear First Grade Teacher~

Somehow sending my sweet girl off to school for first grade was nearly as bittersweet as last year’s steps into Kindergarten.  I should be good at this by now, right?  I’ve seen her in her uniform.  She’s been under a teacher’s care for the full day.  She’s come home stronger, smarter and sassier.

delaneydaddyfirstday2And yet, I still feel compelled to share a few words with you.  I want you to know her.

That goofy nature, the desire to make silly faces, the contagious giggle?  She gets that from her Daddy. She comes by her love of play and joking ways honestly.  From him she has learned to laugh and tease, smile and see the best in most every situation.

The sensitivity?  The dramatic?  I’ll own up to those traits.  She and I share those. Oh, and the freckles, too.

But that tendency to be a bit shy?  She doesn’t get that from either of us.  That is all her. So is her heart, her kindness, her wish to be independent, her beautiful singing voice, her love of friends and that deep-down-belly-laughter.

delaney1stgradeShe doesn’t love to read yet, but I’m trying.  Math and Science are ok, but art?  And music?  Just try to stop her.

I just want you to know, in walking my little girl into your classroom, I am both excited and apprehensive.  I’m thrilled for the adventures that lie ahead of her.  I’m delighted she has you to guide her.  But I am watching time slip away.  With every uniform skirt she dons, every classroom she enters, with every word she learns to read and write, with every moment she lets go of my hand to take a friend’s, I am forced to let a little piece of my baby girl slip away.

I know you will handle her with care.  I have watched you with the children, the eye contact, the smiles, the enthusiasm, the genuine love you share.  For this, I am grateful.

And if you would, warn her second grade teacher.  I don’t think I’ll be letting go by then either.


Delaney’s Mom

Win 50 (Fifty) Computers for your Child’s School from Charter Communications

This just might date me….  scratch that….this will definitely date me:

I remember having computers in school.  Sort of. I mean, they weren’t computers by today’s standards.  Al Gore hadn’t invented the Internet yet, computers weighed more than I did, the screen was always blue with a flashing cursor in the top left hand side, and only the smartest of the smart people used computers for their actual jobs.

Fast forward to today.  Computers are everywhere.  In fact, we can CARRY them with us anywhere. The Internet is THE THING (thanks, Al).  And EVERYONE needs to know how to use them.

So….this means schools need to have them.

charter-communications-laptop-giveaway1You know if I think I can help a school, I will, right?

And what school doesn’t need new computers?

How about FIFTY new computers??

Charter Communications is giving away FIFTY laptops to TWO schools.  I’ll do the math for you – that is ONE HUNDRED computers.

With FIFTY new computers, your kids could work on their math skills, look up new words, create their first resume, learn Power Point…the options are endless.

Heavenly.  And just in time for back-to-school.

Here’s how it works:

  • You must be in a Charter Serviceable area in order to nominate a school
  • You must nominate your school – public or private – by August 12th – you will get to share WHY you think they should win.
  • Charter will choose the best 50 Stories for you to vote on
  • You will have to tell your friends, family, fellow parents to vote between August 16th and September 20th
  • Charter will announce the two winning schools (the highest vote getters) on September 27th

As if it wasn’t enough fun to help your favorite school….YOU are also eligible to win your very own laptop from Charter. They are giving away one laptop every day through September 20th.

What would you do with a new laptop?

A Laptop A Day Giveaway…..

screen-shot-2010-08-01-at-115801-pmYou don’t have to purchase anything to enter, but, as you must to nominate a deserving school, you do have to live in an area where Charter Service is available. If you do choose to switch to Charter – you are additionally eligible for a gift card from any number of stores – including Target (circling back to ‘Back-to-School shopping – a gift hard just might be helpful)  Here are all of the RULES.

Hope you jump on and nominate your school.  Picture the kid’s faces.  Heck, picture the TEACHER’S faces!

If you choose to enter, Good luck and remember, eligibility and contest rules can be found here.

Disclosure:  I am a Charter Customer, and have been for more than three years.  In fact, I am writing this post right now courtesy of a Charter Internet Connection.  I have also worked with Charter on a client basis, so naturally, I wanted to share this wonderful project with you.