Day 157: popcorn chicken and Eat Along Challenge (#5)

Today’s menu: popcorn chicken, peas/carrots, orange, bread (kids get two slices)

Popcorn chicken. Hmm. I still don’t get how it’s like popcorn (one of my favorite foods of all time by the way). In fact, I’m insulted on behalf of popcorn. Squirts of chicken foam covered in breading and…baked? fried? I guess I’ll never know.
It’s a great strategy of mine to be ravenous at lunch time. It really helps. I devoured the mini-balls of chicken foam just like they were cake pops made by Bakerella. I used a lot of BBQ sauce, which might as well have been frosting. My body was ready for calories so it didn’t care what vehicle delivered them. The mind played yet another trick: I thought they were just delicious.
Orange peel
One of you cutie patootie readers suggested timing how long it takes to peel and eat an orange. Why didn’t I think of that? I have been b*tching about how unsliced oranges are too hard for kids to peel, but I had no hard data. It took me 55 seconds to peel the orange. Then it took me an additional two minutes to gobble it down. It should be noted that I have pretty fantastic fine motor skills if I do say so myself. Kids, well, I can’t say. The rind was pretty thick, which actually made it a little more challenging as it came off in little bits not in a large piece. That’s the kind of investigation I’m going to have to undertake next year when I’m not chained to my room for lunch every day.
The veggies tasted good to me: actually better than usual. That’s only my perception, which may or may not be reality.
I asked a couple kids what they had for lunch.
“Chicken nuggets and milk!” and another agreed, “Yep!”
“Did you guys eat the veggies?”
Total silence. They were looking around the room.
“Did you eat the peas and carrots?”
“Mm, hmm,” one boy responded nodding.
I laughed. See what I mean about how they tell me what I want to hear?
***
Regarding the Hart and Risley study from yesterday, I don’t take such a bleak view. I do believe that there can be tremendous growth, especially before age 7 (some contend that personality is set by first grade). I believe kids grow and learn at their own pace. I think early intervention works (from birth to 3) and preschool (age 3 to 5), changes the trajectory of students’ lives, especially if kids get two full years.
Here’s another wrench in the works: what about when your child was born? I see children with summer birthdays starting kindergarten at age five and really struggling (boys having the worst time). Their friends born in the fall and winter have big advantages. Although many parents want their child to start kindergarten as soon as possible, there should be no stigma attached to being older.
I speak from experience. My birthday is in September. My mom pushed to have me start kindergarten at age four. I was academically ready, but I wasn’t socially mature. I was pretty shy. Then my family moved all over tarnation and I had trouble making friends. I became extremely socially anxious, which I didn’t totally shake until I was into my 20s. When I was in high school, the girl with the locker right next to mine was more than a year older than me and kids from the year below mine were my same age. I graduated high school at 17 and college at 21! I was a baby! Thoughts on age and schooling?
***
I timed something else: it took me 2 1/2 hours to write last night’s blog post. I was sitting at my desk from 8:20ish to 10:45ish. That’s why I get nothing done around the house on weeknights. No wonder I’m completely wrung out by the end of the week. (That’s why I can’t respond to each of your comments individually. Sorry, will you accept a rain check for next year?)
I used to laugh at celebrities when I heard that they were hospitalized from “exhaustion.” Exhaustion from what? Looking beautiful? Now I get it. When you have multiple commitments and obligations day after day it takes a toll. Vacation is a necessity. Say it with me, “ONE WEEK OF LUNCHES LEFT!”
***
EAT ALONG CHALLENGE — MY SON’S LUNCH – DAY 5
My son’s lunch starting from bottom left, counter-clockwise: sliced organic pears, ground buffalo and a rice star, gluten free crackers; organic apple sauce, steamed green beans
One of the annoying things about packing for me is that while I’m packing my son’s lunch, he’s often begging for food I’m putting into his lunch. It’s like, dude, eat your breakfast! Often if he has yogurt for breakfast and I pack it, then he won’t eat it at daycare. This morning for breakfast he ate a bunch of blueberries and pears and then some gf cereal in goat milk (a big breakfast for him). He started demanding more pears and I had wanted to save those for lunch. Thankfully even though he ate a lot of pear slices at home, he ate all of the pear slices I sent for him at daycare. The only thing that came home was three green beans! I didn’t pack blueberries because of the choking hazard thing, which I’m now taking even more seriously after the anti-grape comment from an ER doctor!
My husband and I have been buying more buffalo meat. A long time ago when we first discovered Fuddrucker’s, we tried both buffalo and ostrich burgers (they taste great). I haven’t been to Fuddruckers in many years, but we have wanted to continue eating buffalo. We’re not into beef at all.
For dinner I made very plain buffalo tostadas with a corn tostada, buffalo, sliced mini-tomatoes and avocado. If I had had more time, I would have made some kind of black bean mixture with the buffalo, but I didn’t get the chance. Anyway, our son devoured the buffalo on “chips.” So I sent it for lunch and I guess it was a hit.
My boy doesn’t always want to eat rice so when I found these rice molds on amazon, I wanted to try them. We make rice in a rice cooker and when it’s hot, I place it into the molds. Then I feed it to him and freeze the rest so that I can just plop them into his lunch. He thinks rice is a lot cooler when it’s in a shape. Yes, I do resort to trickery!
The daycare menu was ground beef, pasta with red sauce, diced pears, and baby peas. My lunch attempted to mimic, but I couldn’t do even gf pasta again. Their lunches are so wheaty!
As far as getting our son to eat well, we are firmly in the “Here’s your food. Now your father and I are going to pretend we could care less if you eat or not.” We got that advice from an experienced mom on New Year’s Eve, literally days before he first got fussy. So there were some nights in January when our son ate one mouthful for dinner and that was it. We tried not to freak out. I guess it worked. Also whenever he was sick, he would stop eating and we wouldn’t force it. And upon recovery, he would eat like a champ. He was sick so frequently that we just got used to that cycle.

YEAH! We made it. Thoughts on the week?

PRIZE GIVEAWAY #5:
A $25 gift card to ChefsCatalog.com. I received the gift card at BlogHer, but I haven’t gotten around to using it. Now you can!

Day 156: pasta and The Eat Along Challenge (#4)

Today’s menu: pasta with meat sauce, spinach, breadstick, pear
I smiled. Seeing the pasta on the tray was like greeting a friend. It was the first meal I had way back on Day 1. It’s hard to believe that I’ve eaten this much school food and lasted this long. Frankly, I thought for sure I would have been found out by now.
Anyway, I love hot food. I was starving by the time I got to lunch. I loved the feeling of piping hot pasta going down my throat. It was cold outside and there’s nothing better than a hot lunch. A sandwich just can’t compete.
I even squealed “Spinach!” when I opened up the plastic. It didn’t taste half bad either. Milk was a semi-accident — today I accepted it when they offered it to me so that I could look a little closer at the packaging. I may want to do a further post on milk down the line (I blogged about milk before). As usual I didn’t drink it because my lactose intolerance is severe. I gave it away to a friend.
Not half bad
Probably one of the last times I’ll eat wheat pasta
Did you ever hear about the Hart & Risley study? It documented the “link between the academic success of a child and the number of words the child’s parents spoke to the child before age three.” They found that there was a 30 million word gap by age three between the vocabularies of kids from low socio-economic backgrounds to those of kids from higher SES. Even more devastating the researchers found that it was insurmountable. What do you think about that?
***
EAT ALONG CHALLENGE – MY SON’S LUNCHES DAY 4
My son’s lunch starting with the biggest compartment from bottom left, counter-clockwise: scrambled eggs with yellow split peas, yogurt with pomogranate seeds, gluten free chip-crackers; potatos with gf ketchup dipping, sliced carrot circles, mandarin orange, tuna (lunches take me about 25-30 minutes to assemble)

We’re hoping for a better night tonight. Someone did not sleep well last night. He was awake in the night screaming. It has happened two nights in a row, which coincides with him being accidently given some pretty minor wheat snacks during afternoon snack both days. When I picked him up from his crib at 11:30 am last night, he was arching, kicking his legs out, and screaming. Until going gluten-free, he was awake during the night frequently. I have read that for some kids gluten disrupts night sleep. Well, we have always had a bad sleeper (since coming home from the hospital). That was until this fall. Things that make you go hmmm.

His regular caregiver was back and we all rejoiced. I chatted with her about what happened and how heartbreaking it is that my kid has to be that kid with allergies and carry that burden. I don’t want to be a “high maintenance” mom but now I’m going to have to be, for the health and well-being of my son. Don’t get me wrong, I will and do advocate for my little one, but I still mourn the fact he can’t have a normal experience.

So he ate everything except for all of the eggs and the yellow peas. I mentioned before that my husband is learning to cook Indian food. He’s starting with rasams. I don’t want to discourage him, but what he is producing is insanely spicy. He tried to make something last night (after our son had gone down) and said happily, “Don’t worry, I used half the cayenne pepper.” I could barely take two sips.
 
Anyway, to make the base he had to use the juice of a 1,000 yellow split peas. Just kidding, but he did have a ton of non-spicy split peas left over and I thought I’d toss them in our son’s lunch. My kid did not like the peas and didn’t finish them. I’d estimate he ate only half his eggs and peas. He also left half of the mandarin orange. Everything else was consumed.
 
Someone asked about the metal lunch boxes used by Liz Snyder from ieatreal.com — they are from Planetbox. I’m interested in doing a big review of the products available for lunch packing as I go back to packing for myself. There are many options to choose from and they can be made waste-free, which some districts are requiring. My son’s lunches aren’t waste free since I use plastic wrap on them.

The soup from yesterday (Imagine brand) was dairy free and came in a large paper box. I’m buying my soups from boxes now. Hopefully I can make our own soup next year!

Link up your lunch below (sorry, somehow I forgot to add yesterday’s linky tool!):

PRIZE GIVEAWAY #4:

A copy of A Framework for Understanding Poverty. I had never heard of this book until a close friend of mine told me that her principal gave a copy of the book to every teacher in her school. She is a person of color and told me that she really liked this book. I figured I should read it too so I bought it. I’ve found that the book is somewhat controversial in certain circles. Some people think the author stereotypes people and others think she provides important insights into the lives of people living in poverty. I think that there is truth to both perspectives. But I think it’s an important (if not a little disorganized) work that does help the reader think about poverty in a new way.

Day 155: pizza and Eat Along Challenge (#3)

Today’s lunch: pizza, carrots, popcorn chips, fruit cup (see below — it didn’t get in the first shot)
I’m, like, so sick of pizza, dude. But I ate it anyway (SEVEN MORE LUNCHES TO GO). It tasted ok. I’m trying to think positive now. I’m mostly successful.
Today I felt a lot of joy. I’m trying to figure out what made me so happy. I think a lot of it is that eating school lunches is almost over. I really believe that not having control over the food you eat screws up your brain. The psychology of not controlling what you consume, day after day, well, it has done a number on me. Someone should do some research into that and get a PhD. When you are stuck with something for so long…with no escape…you have to embrace it.
Also I have a good friend at work that I realized recently just makes me happy. He is a kindred spirit (don’t worry, he’s gay). A long time ago a dear friend told me, “I’m happy just knowing that you are in this world.” That’s exactly how I feel about this coworker. I feel so lucky to have him in my life, but especially where I work.
Hello fruit cup!
So the fruit cup didn’t make it into the first shot. I have a confession to make: I position the food on the tray just so. I took the fruit cup off and I didn’t put it back on. I guess you could say I “style” it, but really it’s nothing that elaborate.
The popcorn chips were eh, but the carrots were better. I ended up running out of time to eat the fruit cup so I ate it at the end of the day.
I forgot to share with you that one of my students was sick after yesterday’s lunch (sloppy joes). She complained that her stomach hurt late afternoon within 30 minutes of dismissal. This particular student has a sensitive stomach. I wasn’t sick from yesterday’s lunch, but I did have random discomfort both yesterday and today. I used to never notice how my body felt after eating, but now I do.
***
EAT ALONG CHALLENGE – MY SON’S LUNCHES DAY 3
the soup looks gross

My son’s lunch starting at the biggest compartment from bottom left, counter-clockwise: potato soup (Imagine brand with purple & white potatoes added by me), tuna in the silicon cupcake, packaged brown rice marshmallow bar; peeled clementine, crackers, packaged rice cheese (under crackers), sliced avocado and sliced red bell pepper.

I totally deviated from the regular lunch the kids are getting today. Their menu consisted of diced ham with buttered whole grain noodles, green beans, and bananas with “fruit” and american cheese slices on crackers as snacks. The only thing I said he can eat with the kids was the banana.) I wanted my soup lover to get some soup. I buy the “Imagine” brand from Whole Foods. It’s gluten free, but when you read the back it has a huge list of things that it doesn’t put into their soup. I’d really love to make my own soup and maybe next year I’ll get the chance, but for now this is perfect. I tasted the soup before I put it into his lunch and I thought it was peppery. I like their tomato soup as well as their squash soup, but this didn’t do it for me quite as much. I was running low on time so I dropped a couple sliced purple and white potatoes into it to give him something to break up the texture.

I like to eat tuna on crackers with soup. So I sent tuna and crackers for my boy. The clementine is peeled, but he likes to rip it open his “own self.” Under the crackers is something called “rice cheese.” It looks exactly like the pre-packaged singles that they give out at daycare for snack (I know, before I investigated I thought it was plain old sliced cheese, but it’s even more processed). The rice cheese is dairy free and soy free. I haven’t tasted it, but my son loves taking the cheese out of a package and gobbling it down much to my own chagrin.

Lastly I sliced up some avocado and a mini-red pepper. I bought some vegetable cutters that cut veggies like peppers into little shapes and sent along pepper shapes in his lunch a week ago. His caregiver said that he didn’t touch them because he didn’t know know what they were. At home he likes to chew on the pepper and crunch it, but I’m not sure I know how much he actually eats. So I sent it just sliced this time. I believe it’s important to play with foods at this age. Eating should be a sensory experience!

His main caregiver was absent today too so I didn’t get a straight answer about what he ate. I guess he didn’t eat everything, but no one could tell me exactly what he didn’t like and didn’t eat. I walked in and he was eating Cheerios with the other kids! Oh jeez. The morning there were two staff members and in the afternoon there were two different people. I hope his main, regular caregiver comes back soon because this is not good. I’m going to have to formalize the fact that he doesn’t eat wheat or dairy. I’ve been dragging my feet on it because I think it will require a doctor’s note. The two main caregivers know it, but if there’s an absence, it all goes out the window.

I’ve been a big fan of Laptop Lunches ever since I read Vegan Lunch Box a long time ago. If you are considering buying Laptop Lunches as a holiday gift, I suggest buying the Bento Kit as well as an extra package of the replacement interior boxes. That way if you are in a rush and you don’t get around to washing the lunch containers from one day, then you are covered because there are clean ones at the ready in the cupboard. They are in constant use for my son’s food.

My son’s lunch’s cost calc? Well, I don’t know. It’s not about the money: it’s about health. I like my husband’s philosophy of grocery shopping: it’s not wasteful if you are going to eat it.

Link up your lunch below —

PRIZE GIVEAWAY #3:

My copy of The Death and Life of the Great American School System. This is a very interesting book, but one that I haven’t had the time to finish (wonder why) and I think you will enjoy it immensely. Anyone who participates is eligible, even if you are only able to participate for one day this week. Winners to be announced next week.

Day 154: sloppy joe and Eat Along Challenge (#2)

 
Today’s menu: sloppy joes, whole wheat buns, beans/rice, applesauce
Want brown with your brown? The sloppy joe mix actually tasted ok. I wish I knew what I was eating, but I can’t find the nutritional information anywhere at school or online.
I got through the sloppy joe meat just fine. But the beans and rice were a little on the dry side. The applesauce was frozen so I ate around the edges.
My hand being self-serving
What I left behind…
I’m getting nostalgic as I wrap up the project. I’ve been thinking about how it has changed me. I spent the first half of the project paranoid and worried about being found out, regretful about risking so much. Now I couldn’t be happier that I decided to do this, even though it has been completely out of my comfort zone. 
A few years ago I took one of those personality tests, which revealed that I am a INFJ. I love taking surveys, but I don’t always put that much stock in them. But that result is spot on. One of the many things it states is that I don’t like conflict, which is true. The project has felt subversive to me and that is not how I normally am. Here’s to taking risks! 
***
THE EAT ALONG CHALLENGE – MY SON’S LUNCH
My son’s lunch from bottom left, counter-clockwise: quinoa pasta, sauce, and sliced peppers; silicon cupcake full of broccoli; chopped pinapple with sliced mini-tomatoes, far right snack bar, organic ham roll-ups with plastic picks, coconut milk yogurt, organic applesauce. 
The official daycare menu today was: fish nuggets, mac and cheese, baby peas, and applesauce with fruit and yogurt as snacks. I tried to mirror some parts of what the other kids were eating. I sent pasta since the other kids had mac and cheese and I also packed applesauce, fruit and yogurt. For meat I decided on deli ham roll-ups (organic, no gluten or casein) and I threw in broccoli instead of peas.
I said yesterday that I thought he ate everything because nothing came home, but today again the lunch box came home empty and I can’t believe that he ate everything two days in a row. I think one of my son’s regular caregivers was absent today and I don’t know what happened yesterday. When I first started packing, the lunch box came back empty and the daycare’s official summary sheet stated: My son “ate everything.” That made me very concerned that I hadn’t packed enough so I started sending what you see above and another extra container and an extra snack. Finally I asked and found out that he hadn’t eaten everything, but that’s what they circle on the sheet when the kid tries a food. I said that I wanted everything back so that I could figure out what he liked and what he didn’t like. I guess this week that system got screwed up.
When I saw the substitute caregiver this morning, I forgot to mention his dietary issues to her in person and later at work I worried that he’d somehow get cow’s milk by accident. Well, that didn’t happen. Thank god, because it does a number on him. However, I guess he did do a good job cleaning up and got animal crackers. That was his first gluten challenge in a few weeks. My husband and I shrugged about it at home, waiting to see. I’m not going to get graphic, but it did affect his digestion tonight.
You’ll notice I’m using some bento products. I bought the cupcake thingys and those picks online recently after much consideration. I was concerned that the daycare would ban the picks due to possible choking hazards. But they haven’t mentioned the picks. The daycare briefed me on acceptable foods and choking hazards awhile back when they realized that this was not a fad, but that I would be packing lunches for good. I have to make sure not to pack hot dogs, grapes, and raisins among other things…I can’t remember the full list. Bad mommy!
Once I sent raisins and they told me same day that it was not good. I have sent a chicken sausage chopped up very small and I think I’ve gotten away with that! Personally, if I pack my son’s lunch and he chokes on the food, I don’t think I really could sue the daycare nor would I want to. Theoretically he could choke on anything, right? Scary but true.
It’s tough because I’m not packing any gluten or dairy. Then no choking hazards. Then absolutely no nuts per daycare rules. Luckily there is still plenty left.
Lastly, the compartments can be microwaved and heated up. I leave it to the discretion of his caregivers. The other kids get hot food too. Thanks for all your supportive comments!
To link up your lunch for today, see below:
PRIZE GIVEAWAY #2: 
A copy of Lunch Lessons. Anyone who participates is eligible, even if you are only able to participate for one day this week. Winners to be announced next week.

Day 153: bagel dog and Eat Along Challenge

Today’s menu: bagel dog, fries, fruit cup
I smelled it. About 20 feet from the cafeteria, I smelled dough. And then the aroma of hot dog followed.
Gulp.
One of the lunch ladies offered me a choice: bagel dog or chili. I could have chosen the chili, but another teacher just bought the chili in front of me. What I saw was burnt brown stuff covered in plastic. I pondered for a couple seconds and this particular lunch lady gave me a look. It was basically a look of “how can you eat this,” which was confirmed when she said the dough was soggy in the bagel dog. She probably thought I was truly crazy when I said,
“I’ll take the bagel dog.”
Hey, this is the second to last week of the project! And the bagel dog that I had over a year was THE SAME LUNCH that put me over the edge and got me thinking about my students, the food, and what I could do about it. And here I am facing it again. A full circle moment!
I bought it and took it back to my room. Oh boy.
The bagel dog was…gross. I can’t sugar coat it. The lunch lady described the dough perfectly: soggy. The hot dog was a hot dog. The fries tasted like nothing to me. They needed ketchup or there would have been no way. The fruit cup? Been there before.
Eat up kids!
I’m sure the kids didn’t finish all the doughy bread.
***
I wasn’t sure I would bring this up on the blog, but Thursday night I was violently ill. You don’t have to look back to find out what I ate that day: school pizza. It was odd in that I had no inclination that I would be ill before it happened. I went to bed just fine, but in the middle of the night I woke up with a start and raced to the bathroom.
It was then that I had a case of the I-wish-I-could-die-right-now-you-know-whats. I was dripping sweat and writhing in pain. On the bathroom floor I promised myself: no more lunches.
But I wasn’t convinced it was the lunches. Because of the timing, I thought maybe it was dinner. My husband cooked fish plain in oil, rice and broccoli. We all ate the same thing. I was silently begging that my son wouldn’t experience digestive pain like I had.
When everyone woke up, my son was fine and I asked my husband how he felt and he said he felt great. Neither of them experienced anything all day. Just me. I have a sensitive system, but wow. That was like no other.
I told my husband about my middle-of-the-night-promise to stop eating lunches and his response, “You can’t. You have to finish this. You’ve got to see this through.” I nodded solemnly. I even told my mom about it and she agreed, “You can’t stop. You’re too close.” I can’t wus out now.
My husband had the best line of all, “C’mon, it’s only 10 more days of diarrhea!”
We all had a good laugh over that one.
***
EAT ALONG CHALLENGE – MY SON’S LUNCH

 plenty of finger food
My son’s lunch from bottom left, counter-clockwise: chicken and rice noodle soup (restaurant leftover), tofu and california/eel sushi roll (restaurant leftover), packaged gluten free snack bar far right, salmon (gluten-free bread crumbs fried in oil) and peas, coconut milk yogurt, fresh pineapple and sliced mini heirloom tomatoes. It’s for lunch and two snacks.
I use Laptop Lunches for my son (he’s two) and have been since September. He thinks all the containers are pretty fun. Normally the lunches aren’t this elaborate. We had restaurant leftovers (Thai/Japanese place last night) so I used them in his lunch since he liked those foods. I try to mimic the lunches that are served at the daycare, but recently I discussed it with one of his caregivers and she said that he likes eating his lunch and doesn’t seem to be too bothered if I deviate from what the other kids eat. So I feel like I can be more creative going forward. I’m lucky that my kid is a good eater.
Today at daycare the menu was ground beef, tater tots, diced pears and diced carrots with fruit and ice cream (?) as snacks. The menu says “ice cream” but I just can’t believe they actually do that; I haven’t seen it. And my son has never participated in ice cream as he has been “lactose intolerant” ever since he started there. But lunch sounds great, right? Well, yeah, but the tater tots come from a bag and the pears and carrots come from cans. I know this because I have visited at lunch. His caregivers know that my son is not eating gluten or dairy and that I prefer fresh foods. But I want him to participate whenever possible. For example, if they are slicing up bananas for the kids, my son can eat them too.
I have recently started writing up what is in his lunch on a post-it and putting it in his lunch because his caregivers will ask things like, “Were those purple potatoes? Were they dyed with food coloring?” When the kids last had tater tots, I bought some purple potatoes at Trader Joes and sent them for him with ketchup for dipping. Also he got quinoa in his lunch and they were perplexed as well. I love that they are learning about new foods through my son’s meals.
Well, today when I picked him up, the lunchbox was empty. He had eaten everything. That doesn’t always happen, but it did today. He loves all of those foods, especially soup, so today’s lunch was a hit. I’m probably going to do some kind of soup for tomorrow too because it’s supposed to be in the single digits. Brrrr.
I’m thinking about whether or not I should get myself a special lunch bag or system for when I return to packing next year (can’t wait!!), but I might just stick with what I had before, which was a generic lunch sack. I don’t have a ton of time to eat so the above would be too much food for lunch for me (and too much fiddling around).
Cost calc? Sorry, I don’t know but it’s probably more than $3 considering the restaurant fare. Tomorrow’s lunch will be a typical example of what I send and a mimic of the daycare menu, aside from the fish nuggets. *shiver*

To link up your lunch post, see below:

PRIZE GIVEAWAY #1:

A red Built NY Neoprene lunch bag. Anyone who participates is eligible, even if you are only able to participate for one day this week. Winners to be announced next week.

Open thread: What makes a great school?

Thanksgiving was fun this year. We spent a lot of time sitting around talking about school lunch as well as school districts. A family at Thanksgiving also has a little guy and are looking to buy a house. They are trying to decide how important the school district is when making the decision. Should they buy exclusively based on school district? Or where they want to live due to proximity to work/transporation concerns? Or based on diversity of the neighborhood? How much did school district factor into your decision on where to raise your family?

My friends found the website http://www.greatschools.org/ and they were comparing the scores of schools from the neighborhoods they are choosing from (I hadn’t heard of the website before and I have no affiliation with them whatsoever). Then all of the Thanksgiving guests were interested in finding out the rankings of the schools they attended (it’sout of 10). Some of the guests went to elementary, middle and high schools that were ranked as high as 10 or as low as 4. Out of curiosity I check the rating of the school where I teach: it was lower than a 4. Do I trust that rating? Absolutely. The website’s other ratings of schools that I attended were spot on. For reference, I went to schools in the 4 to 6 range: not the best, not the worst. We had a lot of fun looking up everyone’s schools. What do you think of that website? What do you think makes a great school?

This discussion is continued on Lunch with Mrs. Q and I’ll be available to chat there on Sunday night after 8:30 pm CST.

WikiLunch

covert photo

(Cue 1970’s funk music like the theme from Shaft)
(wucca chicca, wucca chicca)

I’m on the run.
I hope they don’t shut me down.
I’m on the front lines.
Mrs. Q!
Can you dig it?

I don’t have a home.
I get a new cell phone every few days.
I live in airports.
Mrs. Q!
Right on

I eat school lunch.
Shut yo’ mouth!

She’s a complicated lady
No one understands her but her man
Mrs. Q!

(wucca chicca, wucca chicca)
(a spontaneous dance party of one can be started by clicking this link for the original song: http://youtu.be/SWawEndwdM8)
(please forgive my wild silliness. I’m just overjoyed it’s the weekend!)

***

Today was a professional development day so no school lunch. I feel like I just had a professional development day, but I really needed this one. I had a ton of stuff to do in my room and I’m happy to report I got everything done! I was shockingly productive.

***

My husband and I were discussing WikiLeaks over dinner and I asked him with concern, “Am I the Julian Assange of school lunch?”
“No,” he replied with certainty, “You’re not putting our country at risk.”
Just my job, right?
Well, that’s good to know!

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Some of you have asked — I want to keep blogging after I finish eating school lunch (two weeks of school left before holiday break!). There’s still a lot I’d love to blog about that I can do without physically eating the lunch. For example, I’m going to blog my “detox” (which will not be a weird cleanse, but I want to take my diet in a new direction), I want to investigate the breakfast options at my school, I want to eat lunch in the cafeteria with the kids (not in my room) and share those observations, I want to share random photos of school (like the one above), I want to talk about education, and I want to be silly and have fun too. And finally, at some point, I want to share more about myself and my story with you. I’d love to blog about my little boy and my husband as they are a huge part of me. Hopefully you’ll stick around or check back periodically to see what I’m up to in 2011. If 2011 is half as exciting  and suspenseful as 2010, then things will be fun indeed.

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Don’t forget all next week is “The Eat Along Challenge”  inspired by this lovely blogger! Please gear up to post photos of your children’s lunches. I’ll share photos of my son’s lunches. If you are looking for recipe ideas for lunch, check out my favorite bento websites: http://www.anotherlunch.com/ http://www.bentolunch.net/ and http://www.hapabento.com/ or suggest some favorite inspirational blogs in the comments. Then come back here to link up to your blog post or photo each day! Surprise giveaway TBA!

Day 152: pizza and an A+ for effort!

Today’s menu: pizza, salad, grapes

My feelings towards school lunch pizza (which reportedly contains 62 ingredients) can be summed up in three words:

LOVE HATE RELATIONSHIP

First, I hated it. Then I started liking the flavor. Now, I can’t stand it.

Similar to how I felt about a boy named Mike in eighth grade. Mike was mean to me and then nice to me and then told me another boy liked me. I loved Mike. I hated Mike. I liked both Mike and the other boy. High drama after school while waiting for Bus #222. Lots of chasing.

Now as an adult I finally know: Mike liked the other boy.
I’m in the unfortunate group of “those-with-impaired-gay-dar.” Oh, there has been heartache…

Getting back to the pizza, there has been high drama in 2010. I can’t wait until I end our toxic relationship!

I’m breaking up with you!

The salad was really tasty. I hate to criticize REAL fruit, but some of the grapes were mushy. I know the kids like grapes and it’s REAL fruit, so I hate to complain. A+ for effort!

Also, I’m stopping December 17th because that is the last day of school in 2010. My original goal was to do this in the year 2010. The project is oddly over two school years…just goes to show you this was not professionally planned or premeditated.

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THE CHILD NUTRITION ACT PASSED TODAY!!!

Thank you to everyone who called their representatives. I know it’s “only” 6 cents per meal, but it’s still the best thing to happen to school lunch in a few decades according to what I have read. I think there are a lot of people who are disappointed that there wasn’t more money or major changes in regulations or “a big shake up.” Hey, I give it an A+ for effort!! We are headed in the right direction. This bill almost didn’t pass. If it hadn’t been for the “lame duck” session (which is maybe it’s not so “lame”), this would have sat in committee for who knows how long. This is a victory and we need to celebrate it.

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I have really appreciated all of your positive comments. I get the occasional negative comment and I rarely delete them because, well, they can be hilarious. This comment came in and I couldn’t stop laughing. Do please enjoy it with me:
Interesting choice considering Sarah Palin recently brought cookies into an elementary school in Pennsylvania to purposely defy all the healthy talk about school food. Thoughts on that?

*eye roll* what a bunch of bs. I cannot wait until you and your project go far away. And stop begging your readers to support this and that. I’m really sick of helping this waste of space we call a future. You’re like the Sarah Palin of blogging: popular with the soccer moms and so self serving. GO AWAY.