Thursday, April 28, 2011

I just got FLASHED . . .

and it made my day!

No, silly!  Not that kind of flash.

An oncoming driver briefly turned his headlights on and off indicating that a police officer was ahead trying to catch someone speeding.  Even though I wasn't speeding at the time (I did look down at my speedometer and check just to be sure), I did think it was a nice gesture.   There are occasions, as a driver, where I may or may not have found myself to be driving faster than I had intended.  I definitely think that a friendly headlight flashing reminder is much nicer to receive than the red and blue flashing reminder that you might otherwise get. 

So, to that flasher, and all others, THANK YOU!  (Be careful though.  Did you know that it is illegal to do that in some states?  Fortunately, my state doesn't appear to be one of them.  Make sure you check out your local laws.  I don't want to be accused of encouraging illegal activity.  As a mom -aka example for two young girls- and the daughter of a police officer, I'm all for being a law-abiding citizen.)

Thoughts for Thursday - Kids Grading Papers

Do you think that kids should be allowed to grade their classmates' work? 

Personally, I don't.  As a former teacher, I didn't let my students grade their friends papers.  I always worried that it would make students that were struggling feel more self-conscious.  Students might be more harsh on friends they didn't like or more lenient on friends that they did like.  I'm all for peer reviews when writing essays, proper scientific lab reports, or preparing for a speech.  However, in my opinion, those are left for older students.  They don't affect a grade.  They are helpful in learning when to accept and when to ignore constructive criticism.

Today, my oldest daughter, Peanut (1st grade), came home with the following paper.

When I saw it, I was confused.  What were all the marks for?  The spelling words all looked okay to me.  So, I asked her about it.  Her response was,

"Joe (name has been changed) graded my paper today in school.  He said that he didn't think it was fair that I always got the answers right, so he marked some wrong instead."

What?!  Who does that?

I have to say that I really like Peanut's teacher.  I doubt that she gave her a bad grade for the paper.  In fact, I'm guessing that it was just a practice sheet that probably didn't count at all.  However, Peanut was very upset by it.  She is a bit of a perfectionist, and it bothered her that she had so many marks on her paper. 

This is just a guess, but I think she was probably also upset that someone would want her to not do well on an assignment.  Her generous heart just doesn't understand that perspective.  In fact, we were eating dinner with her Auntie Em tonight who had an interview for a new job.  Auntie Em said that the person who interviewed before her looked nervous, like maybe she hadn't done very well.   Here's how the conversation went:
Peanut: Do you hope she did well?
Auntie Em:  No, I hope she didn't do that well?
Peanut:  Why would you want her to do bad?
Auntie Em:  Because she was interviewing for the job that I wanted.
Peanut:  Can't you both just do well?  How many jobs are there?
Auntie Em:  Only one.
Peanut: Oh.  Well I hope she did well, but you did better.

My Peanut is very driven.  She wants to be the best at everything she does.  However, she also wants others to do well.  She has one of the kindest hearts of anyone I've ever met.  While I'm sure that some of that will change as she gets older, I don't want it to change now.  I want her to remain as innocent as she is.  I don't want her to feel like the only way to succeed is to make others fail.  I don't want her to be self-conscious of mistakes that she does make.  (We all make them and just need to accept them and learn from them.)

What do you think?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cheerios and Reading - Two of my Kids' Favorite Things (Giveaway)

As a mom, I always want what is best for my kids.   I think that companies know this and bombard parents with ads that are full of information, opinions, thoughts, and beliefs that may or may not be true or provide full disclosure.  When I feel overwhelmed by the mass quantity of information, I tend to go back to the basics.  To me, the basics are things that I'm comfortable with.  Things that aren't necessarily glamorous or glitzy, but at least give me confidence that they won't do us any harm.  Some of our favorite basics are fresh fruits, Cheerios and books.   While educational videos for kids may or may not be beneficial and artificial sweeteners may or may not cause cancer, I've never heard anything bad about Cheerios or books (yet).  So, when MyBlogSpark contacted me to see if I was interested in sharing this information with my readers, I couldn't say no.
Through its annual New Author Contest, which kicked off March 22, Cheerios® cereal will make this dream a reality for one aspiring children’s book author. One Grand Prize Winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize and a possible publishing deal with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, in addition to having his or her book featured inside Cheerios cereal boxes nationwide.

Founded on the belief that reading is a key building block for learning and life, the Cheerios New Author Contest encourages ambitious authors to write and submit an original story, in either English or Spanish, suitable for children ages three to eight. The contest, which is an extension of the Spoonfuls of Stories program, is part of the brand’s ongoing commitment to nurturing the whole child and connecting families by fostering a shared love of reading.

Laurie Isop, of Renton, Wash., won the literary lottery when she was named Grand Prize Winner of the 2009 Cheerios New Author Contest. Laurie, a small business owner, mother of two boys, and aspiring author since the age of 12, can now add “published author” to her resume. This spring, Laurie’s book How Do You Hug a Porcupine? will be featured in more than three million specially-marked boxes of Cheerios and will also be available in bookstores nationwide beginning this July.

Those who want to follow in Laurie’s footsteps and think they have the “write” stuff can visit from March 22 through July 15, 2011 to find out more.
I don't know if they had this contest when I was still teaching, but if they did, then I wish I would have known about it.  My high school students wrote some of the most amazing children's books about the science topics we discussed in class.   The books were colorful, bright, attractive, educational, and just plain fun.  I'd love to have seen how they would have done.   However, since I can't go back in time, I'd also love to see how some of my readers do!  So get your thinking caps on and come up with something great.  Perhaps it is something you've been thinking about for years.  Maybe it is something you just thought about today.  If you are creative and want to be an author, now is your chance!  Good luck!

How would you like to win a box of Cheerios and a "Create-your-own" book kit for your kids (or yourself)? It might be just what you need to motivate you to write a book and perhaps win this year's contest.

Here's what you have to do for your chance to win.

Mandatory Entry: 
  • Tell me what you think makes a children's book AMAZING.  Is it a catchy rhyme, a funny theme, a topic that makes you want to cuddle or something else?
Optional Extra Entries
  • Follow me via GFC and leave your user name in the comments (sidebar)
  • Follow me via twitter and tweet this giveaway using #myblogspark and @rmgm (Leave a link to your tweet in the comments)
  • Like me on Facebook and leave your initials in the comments
    • Only open to US residents
    • Winner will be chosen using
    • Giveaway ends 11:59 pm ET on May 1, 2011
    • Include your email address in your comment if it is not available on your profile page.
    • Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
    • Prize will be sent directly from MyBlogSpark. I am not responsible for lost or damaged products.
    *Disclaimer - I received the same prize pack that my winner will be receiving.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Classic Family Recipe Inspired by Coke

    Summer is almost upon us (though the weather wants us to believe otherwise). I can tell by the chirping of birds when I wake up in the morning. I can tell by the sun shining in my window while I'm still in bed. I can tell by the constant rushing for softball, T-ball, ballet, play dates, etc. When summer time arrives, the whole world seems to wake up. Our tiny little town begins to bustle with activity. All of the summer residents and people with vacation homes start preparing their cottages for the onslaught of visitors that will appear between Memorial and Labor days. Stores that I've missed throughout the winter months will reopen their doors. The ones that remained open despite the bitter cold and decreased revenue will extend their hours. Summer means sunshine, laughter and fun. It is our favorite time of the year!

    Whenever the littlest signs of summer appear, I am always ready to start making my signature summer dishes. (If you were to ask me why I don't make them year-round, I wouldn't be able to answer you. Some foods are just meant to be made in the summer.) Some of my favorite summer dishes are salads. I just love an easy Taco Salad on those days when it is too hot to want to eat anything warm. Nothing says picnic like my grandma's amazing potato salad. With mustard, pickles, celery and just enough mayonnaise and Miracle Whip to make it barely creamy, it is a summer staple. Whenever I smell someone else grilling, my eyes turn a bit green and I feel the need to drag out my grill and whatever meat I have on hand. Whether it is a hamburger, hot dog, steak, or chicken, it all tastes better on the grill.

    One of my absolute favorite summer meals though, is a barbecued pork/chicken/beef dish that I make in a crock pot. Perfect for those days when you're going to be out on the boat most of the day only to arrive home to guests to feed, this meal is easy delicious and always well received.

    Place a large roast in a crock pot
    Add other seasonings to taste (I usually add some garlic powder, seasoning salt, and pepper)
    Cook on low heat.
    Once the meat is tender and easy to shred, shred it (remove excess fat/bones)
    (Sometimes I will do the first part overnight so that I can shred it in the morning and it will be ready to eat for lunch)
    Pour approx 1/2-1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce over the shredded meat
    Pour approx 1 can of Coke over the shredded meat
    Allow it to cook for 1-2 hours for the meat to absorb the flavors (though you can let it cook for much longer on the low setting)
    Serve on buns

    What are some of your favorite summer time meals?  I'm always looking for new recipes to add to my repertoire.  Please feel free to share

    *Disclaimer - Recipe came from a modified recipe that I obtained from an online recipe site.  I don't remember now which one it was, but if you know, I'd be happy to give credit to the original "chef".  I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Coca-Cola® blogging program. If I am one of the first 100 blogs received by SocialsMoms, I will receive a $25 gift card. For more information on the program, click here.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Little Switches that can make a Big Difference

    Sometimes life feels like it gets a little monotonous. Perhaps you might even call it boring. What do you do when you feel yourself getting in a rut? Have you ever made a little switch that seemed to make a huge difference? Over the years I've made some little switches. Some have helped more than others, but it is always worth a try.

    Switch 1 – My girls are always a great source of inspiration for my switches. In fact, just now I was talking to my first grade daughter about what she learned at school. She was telling me that they talked about energy in science class – what energy is, how to save energy, and different forms of energy. Shortly after this conversation, a friend called to ask is she could come over to play. When I said that I could bring her right over, Peanut suggested that we walk, bike or scooter ride. So, I walked, Peanut rode her scooter, and Pumpkin rode her bike. It took us about ten minutes to get her friends house instead of two, but we saved gas and got a little exercise in the process. I already feel better! I don’t know if this switch will stick, but with the encouragement of the girls, I sure hope so!

    Switch 2 – Sometimes I tend to focus on the negative. There are mornings that I wake up dreading the day ahead of me. I pull the covers over my head and try to avoid getting up for as long as possible. I think about all the things I have to do that I know I won’t enjoy. It isn’t that I try to be a negative person. In fact, I’d much prefer to be positive. I think that by starting and ending the day with a positive thought, I might be able to perk up my attitude. If you wake up just appreciating that you are alive and looking forward to at least one activity that will take place, then I think it makes it easier to get through the rest. At the end of the day, look back. Find one thing that surprised you, made you laugh, or that you unexpectedly enjoyed. Go to sleep focusing on that positive experience and hopefully you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed and ready for a new day.

    Switch 3 – When I was teaching, I had students that were difficult. (I won’t say much more than that since teachers are getting in trouble for blogging about their students lately.) A wise older teacher told me to find three positive things to say to that student every day for three weeks. I’m not sure what the “magic” of the number three is, but it really works. After three weeks those students and I seemed to have fewer issues. Whether the positive comments made them feel better about themselves and behave more appropriately or whether the positive comments made me see them in a better light, I do not know. Regardless of whether the student had changed or I had, it made all the difference in the world in my classroom. When I get stressed out by any of my family members, I try to do the same – focus on their good qualities instead of harping on the bad. I think everyone appreciates feeling appreciated.  It makes us want to do more for those that appreciate us.

    I'd love to hear about your little switches that made a big difference. I'm always anxious to try new things that might make my life even better.

    *Disclaimer - I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Cottonelle blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

    Where I've been . . .

    While I know I don't have a plethora of loyal readers that have been pining away for me in my recent blog absence, I did want to let you know where I've been.   Doc and I were on a wonderful week away.  We were enjoying sun, fun, and a fabulous time together.   While I have plenty that I could blog about from the trip . . . from the joys of airport check-ins to the picketers outside our hotel or even the interesting places and people we encountered . . . I haven't yet decided if I will.  I am sharing this photo from our trip though.  These are the gorgeous flowers I received on my birthday sitting on the deck of our hotel room.   Just looking at the picture, I can almost feel the sun.   :o)

    Winner Winner Chicken Dinner - Winner

    Congratulations to #15,  Doodle741 that said... I follow you and Barber on facebook. has selected you as the winner of the Chicken Selects from Barber Foods and the $25 Gift Card.  I will be contacting you shortly for your information.