Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Varied Diet

Would a nutritionist consider this a varied diet? (And no, this was not all eaten in one day!)




Egg Drop Soup


Split Pea Soup

Tofu Sandwiches (Fried tofu, with soy sauce, italian seasonings, and ketchup)

Bean and Rice Burritos

Spanish Rice

Hummus and tortillas



Grilled Cheese

Pupusas (Tortillas stuffed with queso fresco)


Scrambled Eggs

Chex Mix



Mix in a healthy dose of fresh fruits and vegetables, an occasional smoothie, and life is good!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On the Front Lines

I'm on the front lines. I've caught a two year old half a second before he would have been hit by a car, after an overburdened mother of four accidently left the daycare center's gate open. I've been the target of hits, kicks, bites, and screams, without the option to fight back. I've been witness to a three year old's sudden violence after too much stimulation, and caught children literally flying through the air. I've worked with children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, autism, Down's Syndrome, bipolar disorder, and Sensory Integration Dysfunction. I've been bled on, and wondered how much I should worry---the child's mother did do drugs.

Name any bodily fluid, and I've encountered it. Projectile vomit? Check. One day in the one year olds' classroom crossed that one off my list. Poop? The infant room did that one in, when a child with a stomach bug had a leaky diaper. Blood? I've had a bloody hand unceremoniously dumped in mine after a rough fall.

I've translated for a frantic grandmother whose granddaughter was locked in a car, a mother who just got divorced, and a teacher when a sweet, peaceful child got badly bitten.

I am the subject of violence on a daily basis, without the option of fighting back. An angry child in the midst of a manic episode can have superhuman strength!

And people still think teachers aren't underpaid?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"Dinner Isn't Late...It's Suspenseful."

I absolutely love this new blog. Matthewsers is funny, smart, and slightly irreverent. What's not to love? Here are a few choice quotes:

"Dinner isn't burnt/completely carcinogenic/could be used as charcoal sticks for caveman drawings...it's smokey. Or Cajun?"
"And the biohazards in the fridge? Just think of them as biodiversity. Flourishing biodiversity. Perhaps you'd prefer to think of them as wildlife?"

So go check it out, and get a few laughs!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


So far, my center has had:

  1. Pinkeye (three times)

  2. H1N1

  3. Impentigo

  4. Lice

  5. A Staph infection

Are we cursed?

Monday, April 11, 2011

I've Worked in Childcare Too Long

I've worked in childcare for far too long. Last night, I dreamt that I was singing an impromptu song about carrots. Yes, even in my dreams I was making up songs to entertain sad-faced two year olds.

This is after I was caught singing about yogurt in our local co-op by the very professional looking lawyer I babysit for. How, exactly, do you explain that? If there had been a child in sight, I could have pretended my song was directed at him, but sadly, there were no children in sight. Just me and my roommates.

I think a good long weekend is just what I need.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Why I Won't Be Watching "The Eagle," "The Town," or Any Other Popular Violent Movie

I forgot one important detail when choosing a movie: after Guatemala, it's hard to see anything violent. I saw enough dead bodies there, and heard enough gunshots in the night. I had to worry about violent holdups on public transportation, and being mugged. You never went out after dark unless you planned on having multiple people walk you home. I lived across from a "bar" (AKA a house of prostitution), where even the Guatemalans didn't want to walk at night. Let's just say that violent movies make me very tense---they bring back all of the old memories. So if I choose not to watch a violent film, now you know why.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ice Storm!

There is nothing more entertaining than trying to get a solid 3/8ths inch of ice off of a car. My Toyota was totally encased in ice---when I opened the trunk, a huge slab fell off.

Let's just say that I have no plans to go to work, optional teacher workday or not. If my car is still covered in ice, who knows about the roads. A half hour drive on these roads is nothing to shrug off.

Is it just me, or is it crazy to deem roads too icy for kids to be out on, but just fine for teachers? Are our lives less valuable? I guess they figure that we are able to judge just how challenging the roads are, and can decide for ourselves whether or not to make it in to work. However, if you don't show up, you have to use personal leave time. Luckily, as AmeriCorps, my only requirement is to get 1700 hours in 10 and a half months. I can take off a day for a crazy ice storm, without wondering if I can make rent or pay for doctor bills that month without working for the day.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dumpster Diving

My roommate's dad is a professional dumpster diver. He makes about $1,000 a week scavenging useful items that have been thrown away and taking them to the scrapyard or reselling them.

As a result of her family background, my roommates and I have begun dumpster diving. First it was for a bookshelf, which had been thrown out because the back was coming off. A couple of nails could easily fix that problem.

Next we scavenged an artificial tree for Christmas. The stand was missing one leg, so it had been thrown out. We propped it in a corner and decorated it. Given our budget, there was no way we could have afforded a tree that we would only use once before moving. This allowed us to add a little festive touch to our apartment.

Today we found a gorgeous lamp with five individual lights, which can be twisted to point any direction. The only discernible flaw is a little chipped paint on two of the lights. Not only was this totally functional lamp thrown out, but so were the three energy efficient light bulbs in it.

I love dumpster diving!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday's Successes

Today I:
  1. Made enough homemade pizza for my roommates and I to have supper tonight, lunch tomorrow, and some leftovers. I used Betty Crocker's Stir and Roll Pizza Crust recipe, and random ingredients from the fridge. It was super tasty, but I should have had the oven a little lower (maybe 375), and checked it at 15 minutes. It was a little crispy, but still tasted wonderful!
  2. Made a batch of homemade Chex Mix to take to work for a snack, and to my EDU 119 class tomorrow night. It will be another day of not getting home until 8 or later, but I have my three roommates in the same class, so it's fun.
  3. Took a long overdue nap. I've been working over fifty hours a week for the past three weeks, with very few breaks. It felt so good to relax and get caught up on sleep!
  4. Researched an article for my EDU 119 class.

What did you do today?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Signs You Might Work in Childcare

You might work in childcare if:

1) You cough into your elbow (to avoid spreading germs)

2) You avoid touching children's elbows, knowing that they just sneezed into them.

3) You know what lice look like, and can identify a nit.

4) You can discuss exploding diapers without flinching.

5) You find yourself singing the clean up song as you clean your apartment.

6) You have four spare pairs of gloves in your winter coat for the children who don't have any or forgot theirs at home.

7) You use positive reinforcement and avoid negative statements. "Use your walking feet!"

8) You find yourself telling someone to not lick the window, and then wonder how you could have phrased it positively.

9) You've ever had to explain why your pockets were filled with toy cars and plastic monkeys at the security checkpoint at a hockey game.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stay Alert!

This seems to be the mantra in my apartment. You can't turn your back without your blankets being spirited off and hidden in some dark closet, or having your dirty socks "hung up by the chimney with care." I was on the phone once, talking to my family in Minnesota, and suddenly found the entire contents of my purse adorning our Christmas tree. It's a good thing I didn't drive to the store that night---my wallet was strung up!

You also have to beware of flying objects. Rubber bands, footballs, soccer balls---they are all fair game. My best advice is to duck and cover. If you do get involved, expect a few bruises.

At least life is never dull at my house.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Snake Cat!

Beware of the snake cat!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Twelve Days of Daycare

(To be sung to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas)
Twelve hyper three year olds,
eleven missing gloves,
ten tossed off shoes,
nine bouts of crying,
eight changes of clothes,
seven major fights,
six "I want my mommy"s,
five spilled milks,
four hours outside,
three exploding diapers,
two crazy tantrums,
and one lice outbreak.

This was my week. Sorry I didn't post more last week---as you can see, it was a little intense!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ten Things I'm Thankful For

1) Pizza for Thanksgiving. Not your traditional meal, but very tasty! Basil pesto pizza topped with peppers and tomatoes from my local farmer's market made this a delicious feast indeed!

2) Warm blankets. I'll be able to turn on the heat soon (I hope). In the mean time, I'm enjoying bundling up nice and warm under my grandmother's handmade quilt!

3) Make Your Own Burrito Night with my roommate. Even though neither of us were able to go home for Thanksgiving, we've been having a blast and a culinary extravaganza.

4) The library! I now have multiple books on tape for my drive to and from work; plenty of books I've been waiting months to read, and a huge selection of DVDs to choose from.

5) My laptop. I can take classes online, write parent brochures for work, keep in touch with my friends and family, and watch movies.

6) Trains. Less crazy than a Greyhound, they are a money saving way to get home. I love seeing all the great scenery, and not having to worry about driving through traffic heavy cities.

7) Family. I have a very supportive and loving family, and I can't wait to see them at Christmas!

8) Steady work. Sure, AmeriCorps doesn't pay a lot, but the experience is priceless, and the comfort of knowing that I have a stable income is a huge relief.

9) Working with little kids. I love every child I work with, and they make life so much more interesting. In what other field do you go from cuddling three one year olds on your lap as you read them a story to teaching a kid how to cut with scissors? Where else can you hear such memorable quotes as, "I had to concentrate when my mom got the bugs out of my hair?"

10) Life. The possibilities that each day bring, and the opportunity to direct my life's path in any direction I choose.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kids Say the Funniest Things

One of the advantages of working in an early childhood education center is all of the funny quotes that I get to hear throughout the day. Amid the children who communicate mainly in Baby Signs or growls, I also get to hear these fun quotes:

1) "I like playing Michael Jackson with my friends." Not creepy at all.

2) "Where do babies come from?" Given that I'm your teacher and not your parent, I don't think I'll be answering this one.

3) "We don't bury our friends!" A three year old parroting a rule given earlier that day---who knew that it would have to be used twice in one day?

4) "Boogers!" The observation that every teacher dreads, knowing that they will be the ones to remove said boogers. Where's the hand sanitizer when you need it?

5) "Am I your pet?" A three year old's question after his mom puts him on a leash. I loved her response: "You're my pet iguana Iggy!"

Aren't children fun?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I've Maxed Out My Card

My library card, that is. I officially have forty books out---three audiobooks (Don Quixote, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Italian the Fast and Easy Way), and 37 other books.

I'm the type of person who reads a dozen books at a time, enjoying bits and pieces. I might read a portion of a romantic comedy, then switch to the autobiography of a man who decided to read every word of the encyclopedia. I read book for work: "Nutrition Nibbles" on healthy meals and snacks, and books on early childhood education. I also read British romances ("The Little Lady Agency", "Confessions of a Shopaholic", and others). I read a classic a month (often as a book on tape on my way to and from work.

What are your favorite books?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pink Eye

The little kid germs have got to me once again. It seems that when you work with seventy children under three years of age, the occasional case of pinkeye is inevitable.

I have it all: the sensitivity to light, the blurry vision, the yellow discharge, and the watery eyes.
After a quick stop at a walk-in clinic for prescription eye drops, I will have to eschew my contact lenses for a week. Not fun. Not fun at all.

At least I avoided the head lice going around our center, and the staph infection that one little nine month old has. All in all, I think I prefer pink eye.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ways You Know You Work with Children

You may work with children if...
1) You've ever told a child "Don't pee on the sink!"
2) You find yourself singing the clean up song at home while washing the dishes.
3) You can push a swing one handedly.
4) You can put five kids to sleep in ten minutes or less.
5) You spend your mornings scraping congealed cereal and milk off the floor.
6) You have calluses from pushing swings.
7) You've perfected your "teacher's voice": loud and no nonsense
8) You break up three fights a day, wipe ten noises an hour, and diaper eight children
9) You've ever picked up a spider to save it from being squashed by anxious children.
10) You get twelve hugs and sloppy kisses at the end of the day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Would You Eat This?

Food in Guatemala was always an adventure. Not only are you dealing with new kinds of tropical fruits and vegetables, but often you may be unable to identify the food on your plate. That was the case with this dish.

Think green potatoes with little cords in them, mixed with a gooey reddish paste. Not your typical dinner.

What was your most adventurous meal?

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Today I:
1) Made a big pot of vegetarian chili---this will be lunch for the next week.
2) Finally e-mailed off a photo I took for a friend so long ago in Guatemala.
3) Cleaned out my fridge and located some tempeh I need to use up before it expires.
4) Found books to take to the local thrift shop.
5) Bought salsa and whole wheat flour in bulk (before I run out of food stamps at the end of the month).

All in all, it was a pretty successful day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blood, Spit, and Tears

My little three year old at the Head Start center was busy today.

One of the other three year olds taught him how to use spit as a weapon, prompting much disgust among the other children and two "think times" after he tried to spit on teachers.

Ew. That's all I can say. Ew.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Things to Do

Things I need to do this week, to finish off October:

  1. Contact the head of the magazine turnover division at my local library, to get all of the magazines slated to be recycled. We can use these at the Head Start to make collages and find interesting pictures to post on the wall (Hello, Diversity Project!)

  2. Type up a summary of the apple tasting to send to my AmeriCorps supervisor to officially finish with one of three nutrition projects.

  3. Fasten my new, $2 corkboard message board onto the wall.

What's on your To Do List?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Laundry Room

My roommate lives in my laundry room.

There. I've said it. She came to us out of a really bad situation (her landlady gave her less than 24 hours notice that she'd need to leave due to a messy divorce), so she originally was just going to crash on our floor for a few days. A few days turned into a couple of weeks, and no housing leads were panning out. Money was tight (AmeriCorps offers a living stipend just at the poverty line), and we all really enjoyed each others' company. My other two roommates and I were open to having her stay, but knew that she couldn't live in our living room forever. Even though she repeatedly reassured us that she was fine with the situation, and could easily make up a partition out of curtains, we knew that it wouldn't be a comfortable long term arrangement.

Our one empty space was the laundry room. It's six feet by four feet, and uncarpeted. However, for someone who's just looking for a place to sleep, it's perfect. We knew it was likely that eventually she's crave her own space and find an apartment, but were fine if it turned out to be a permanent arrangement.

It's been two months. Even though it was really awkward when her mom visited and saw our huge apartment, and then her little room, she repeatedly reassures us that she loves the space.

What secrets do you have lurking in your closets?

Monday, November 1, 2010


Today I saw a two child pile up. When all that could be heard was wailing, I rushed to the scene and picked up a little two year old. Carrying her over to the bench, I asked her what was hurting. In reply, she threw her bloody hand onto mine.

Today a child bled on me. The dangers of blood born pathogens are pounded into you since you were in preschool: you could get AIDS. Or Hepatitis B. Or any number of other horrible diseases.

After brushing off the excess blood from my palm, I led the girl inside to clean her up. Ten minutes and a new bandaid later, and she was happy as could be. Yet all I could do was worry. What had I been exposed to? Given that she's only two years old, it couldn't be anything much, could it? The blood didn't get into any open wounds, which is a definite plus, and I washed it off within minutes.

Sometimes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a curse.