Kindergarten: One Month In

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first day of kindergarten

Libbie’s first day of kindergarten was August 12th, and as of August 14 she was a full-time student. Wow, has it been so much more confusing and strange than I thought it would be, honestly. I was sure Libbie would love school, and it would be an easy transition. She does like school, but wow. My expectations were wildly out-of-whack.

Libbie has had epic meltdowns, the worst tantrums she’s ever had at almost 6 years old, and spends her time at home either loving David (3) to pieces or trying to rile him up in any way she can. This is not limited to hitting, kicking, outright lying, screaming, saying, “That didn’t hurt! Don’t tell Mommy!” and other methods of manipulation. The worst was the two weeks before she started and the first week or two of school, but it still surprises me what may bring out a temper tantrum. We are trying to stay calm … without letting her murder her brother.

She is INCREDIBLY tired by the end of the day. I figured she would be, and I imagine this also helps the tantrums and whining. Libbie still took a nap half the time until two or three months ago. We tried to break her of napping this summer, but it was hard. She was still used to having some afternoon quiet time, at least, to recoup. Even though I consider Libbie an extrovert, she recognizes that sometimes alone time helps her to center herself and release some of her strong emotions.

Unfortunately, given that her school is a lottery-type public school drawing from all over the county, it lets out later than normal elementary schools. We often don’t get home until after 4:30, and she goes to bed around 7:30. In that time, we have to address playtime, homework, dinner, bath, reading, and our nightly routine of family worship, brushing teeth, and tucking in. It’s a lot to cram in a few hours and really does not allow her downtime during the week when she’s not asleep. It makes me sad.

Smiling Libbie

Which bring me to, I definitely had the ARE WE DOING THE RIGHT THING crisis about 2 weeks in. I really hate that Lib is not home more. I hate that we have so little time with her during the week. We were absolutely convinced public school was the right choice for our family; as I have said many a time, I am pretty sure Libbie and I would kill each other if we homeschooled her. I love the structure of a local, Christian, small private school – but we live on a teacher’s salary and will have three children in elementary school. It is just not going to happen. I found myself chatting with JessieLeigh one night, unable to sleep with my stomach twisting and churning and my mind wondering what we could do.  (JL is extremely wise, has kids in public school, and her children are just a couple years older than mine.) She talked me off the cliff and helped me understand that there is no perfect choice, but you have to do what works for your family.

There is definitely an adjustment period with this schooling thing. I did expect that, but I keep forgetting it.

I feel totally lost. This isn’t preschool, where everything was laid out for me in a row, and I got a gold star for completing each task. (OK, not really. But you know what I mean.) In preschool, I walked Libbie in each morning and talked to her teacher directly if I had any issues. In kindergarten, I drop her in front of the school each morning and get her off the bus in the afternoons.

I have to do volunteer hours because it’s a lottery school, but I can’t figure out when or how to do them considering Joshua is with me all the time. I don’t know how to help Libbie do her “neighborhood” project when we live on a school campus. I don’t know when they are doing special things unless I have to pay for them!

It’s not preschool. It’s hard. I hate not feeling like I have all my ducks in a row.

So, that’s where we are, Lost Jessie the First-time Kindergarten Mom. Someone tell me it gets easier. Please?

Whole Wheat Strawberry Doughnuts with Cinnamon Drizzle

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baked strawberry doughnuts

I’ve written over on ParentLife about my love for the Weelicious Lunches cookbook by Catherine McCord. While it’s full of recipes that my picky eater wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole (sigh), there are tons of great recipes, and it’s helped me to think outside the box a little bit.

I wanted to do something productive Saturday afternoon, and baking is way more fun than cleaning, so I opened the cookbook. I started from Catherine’s recipe for Whole Wheat Raspberry Baked Doughnuts, but kept making tweaks, as I often do.

I think my strawberry twist makes a really hearty, appealing snack or breakfast for your wee ones! The cinnamon glaze isn’t necessary, but it makes these feel more like doughnuts instead of muffins shaped in a circle.

baked strawberry cinnamon doughnuts

Whole Wheat Strawberry Doughnuts with Cinnamon Drizzle

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 14 minutes

Total Time: 24 minutes

Yield: 10-12 baked doughnuts

These hearty doughnuts are adapted from the Weelicious Lunches cookbook by Catherine McCord.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. milk or buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 to 1 c. chopped strawberries
  • Drizzle
  • 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. milk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a doughnut pan and sprinkle with flour.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add coconut oil and whisk in as well as you can.

Add sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla. Stir until combined. Fold in strawberries.

Gently spoon into doughnut pan until cavities are three-fourths full. Bake 14 minutes.

(If you have made baked doughnuts before, this is a little longer than usual. This is so they firm up and don't fall apart when you try to take them out of the pan, due to the strawberries.)

Let cool a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack placed over some protection for your counter (wax paper, silpat, baking sheet).

Drizzle

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cinnamon. Add milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Drizzle should be runny but not watery. If you need to, add more powdered sugar or milk.

Drizzle with a spoon over doughnuts and enjoy.

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What’s your favorite doughnut? I like baked doughnuts, but as far as the Dunkin’-variety goes, I really only think Boston Creams are worth the calories. How about you?

Saturday Linky Love

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Saturday Linky Love button

Just wanted to share what I wrote on my FB page last night: I love you guys, but I haven’t been very inspired to blog this week. Been enjoying time with my wee ones, one-on-one and together. Toddler cuddles before he gets too big. Crazy conversations with my three-year-old. Early morning sweetness from my big kindergarten gal. Spending time cleaning and trying to whip our apartment into shape, too. All that said, in some phases blogging takes a back seat, and that’s OK. Anything you’d like to hear about on the blog?

It’s been a good week. Looking forward to having my mama come this week, having our little group of dorm boys for dinner, cooking meals for friends with new babies, and more!

Reading offline: Kind of impressed with myself that it only took me a week to read 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It was a 5-star book for me, and I had a hard time putting it down. That may be another reason why I didn’t blog much this week. :) I started China Dolls by Lisa See, but I am feeling the need to read something lighter after the heady King tome. Suggestions?

So, what did you read that was great this week? Link up here. You can grab the code for the button in the sidebar, if you want. Please link back here and add the PERMALINK to your post, not your home page.

Kitchen Tools That Last

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We recently passed our 10th anniversary of marriage. When Mr. V and I wed, we were just a few months out of college. We had lived in dorms our first three years of school, then in on-campus apartments that we filled with our mothers’ old plates and silverware from 1978. So when we registered, we basically needed everything for our home together.

(Of course, needed is a stretch. We could have gotten by fine with those 70s plates. But you know what I mean. We didn’t have anything of our own.)

It’s neat to see what in the kitchen has held up for 10 years. We joked that 8 years seemed to be the threshold for linens: that’s when all our sheets were suddenly too shrunken to stay on the bed and the towels seemed ratty.

Some items have been replaced more because of want than need; some met untimely ends, like the blender I dropped on the pantry floor and the toaster I set on fire. (Yep. Awesome.)

If you’re looking for long-lasting kitchen paraphernalia to give as a wedding gift or for your own home, here’s what has lasted in my own kitchen. (Or kitchens. We’ve lived in five different homes since we got married.)

Wolfgang Puck Stainless Steel Cookware – We just have the pots and pans, not the utensils. I have no complaints about our pots and pans. They are nice and heavy and clean up well. We supplement them with a Dutch oven (I have a stainless one as well as an enameled cast iron one), a cast-iron skillet, and a couple of nonstick skillets.

Cuisinart Stainless Mixing Bowls with Lids – Again, stainless steel cleans up so well every time. And I love the lids on these things! So practical.

Sunbeam Heritage Stand Mixer – I actually don’t still have mine, but I used it until a few months ago and then passed it on to my mom. I had a chance to get a free KitchenAid from someone in the family, and I jumped at the chance! But if you want a stand mixer without forking out hundreds of dollars, the Sunbeam did me well. And there are things I actually like more about it than the KitchenAid.

Oxo Good Grips nylon tools – We have quite a few of the Good Grips tools – this ladle, a vegetable peeler, a few others. I’ve been very happy with how they have held up. Just a few weeks my balloon whisk bit the dust, but I think 10 years is a pretty good life for a ($7!) whisk!

Oxo Softworks Salad Spinner – Still in great condition, although it’s not something I use a ton.

We still have the Pflatzgraff dinnerware, Target glasses, and Oneida flatware that we got for the wedding. The dinnerware is mostly in good shape – it is scratched as you would expect from stoneware and a few pieces have chips. We’ve talked about replacing it but that would mean agreeing on something else.

Honorable mention goes to one of the oldest items in my kitchen: my Microplane grater. I inherited it from my grandmother’s things when she passed away, so it’s older then 10 years! And that thing still will grate my skin right off. It’s sharp! (I also have Grandma’s Muffinaire muffin tin, which I used this morning to make Double Chocolate Banana Bread Muffins.) (Also I talked my other, living grandmother into giving me a set of her Tupperware measuring cups. Because the measurements are engraved and they are so nice. I think she had all three of their 70s colors: harvest orange, avocado, and harvest yellow. I took the orange ones.)

What’s the oldest item in your kitchen? Or one that has definitely earned its keep?

Saturday Linky Love

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Is it just me, or do the weeks seem LOONG with the kids in school? Maybe I am just adjusting to filling my days without Libbie there …. but the last few weeks have just seemed to drag on. Which is better than them flying by, in my opinion, but I can’t believe how long ago Monday feels.

Happy Friday, then. I just looked and every post I bookmarked this week was about parenting except for one! I guess it was that kind of week. Hope you’re ready to read about kids this week.

Reading offline: Almost finished with Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker, which is even better than I thought it would be. Seriously hit home with me in several chapters. I’m also reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King, but I’m only a few pages into this ginormous book. Since it’s over 800 pages, I bought it for my Kindle so I didn’t feel like I was in a library time crunch. It’s still $2.99 for Kindle if you’re interested in diving in with me!

So, what did you read that was great this week? Link up here. You can grab the code for the button in the sidebar, if you want. Please link back here and add the PERMALINK to your post, not your home page.

Guilt and the Grocery Store

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Guilt & the grocery store

As someone who has struggled with her weight all her life (and not just my adult life or since having kids – since I was 8 or 9 years old), I’m afraid I think way too much about what we eat around here. Especially since I became a parent, I am constantly thinking ahead – what am I going to serve for dinner? How long until we need more milk? Why do parents bring Oreos as a “healthy snack” for kindergartners? (WHY??)

I am an overthinker by nature, too, and I’ve discovered that leads to major anxiety and irrationality in several areas of my life. Of course, it also leads me to blog, so it can’t be all bad, right?

I fear that I way overthink food.

I desperately want my children to have a healthy relationship with food. I want them to understand what real food is and why we try to not pack ourselves full of things like preservatives and sugar. I want them to like to eat healthfully but not feel deprived, not feel the need to sneak chips or candy bars at any given chance.

Man, is it hard to figure out the balance.

Since we’ve been married, I’ve run the gamut from only spending $40 a week on groceries and couponing like crazy to trying to eat all organic, grassfed, happy eggs, etc. And when I go to the grocery store, I feel like I am in a guilt spiral.

When I'm at the grocery store, I feel like I'm in a guilt spiral.
source: Caden Crawford via Flickr

The kids want granola bars. Should I buy granola bars? Should I buy organic? Kashi? Do I have time to make some at home? And if I do, will they actually eat them?

Should I buy cheap eggs or supposedly cage-free eggs? Do I think Walmart’s cage-free eggs are actually from free-range chickens? Organic butter? Normal butter? In-between butter?

It’s EXHAUSTING. It makes me detest going to the grocery store. And I want it to change.

In an ideal world, I truly would hit up the farmer’s markets and buy produce, meat, and even dairy if I could there. I’d feed my family all grass-fed beef and free-range chicken. I would make everything from scratch and love it. But here is the truth: we have three small children and at least one of them is home with me at all times. We live on a teacher’s salary plus the small income I make from freelance work. Mr. V reminds me that we almost qualify for reduced lunch. We are not lacking, but right now I just cannot make the money and time investment to eat the way I think I want to in my head.

I read stuff like this and wonder, were those the glory days? When people lived in blissful ignorance of what their food choices might do to their health? Would I rather be ignorant … or guilty?

There’s got to be some kind of balance, right?

I recently backed out of a Facebook group that made me feel constantly bad about making compromise choices. About ever letting my children near food dye or flour. It’s me, it’s not them, for the most part. And I have to do what I can to back off the guilt before I start getting ulcers.

It’s not just me, right? Do you all feel the tension? What does it look like in your life? I promise not to judge either way, I’m just interested to know. (See some of the conversation happening on Facebook today.)

P.S. Thank you to JessieLeigh and Donielle for sharing your real grocery trips and inspiring this.