Another boy!

I’ve been meaning to blog about my new son, but I have about 10 minutes of computer time per day if I’m lucky.

I had a beautiful baby boy on November 15 — nine days early! We’re both doing great. I’m really enjoying the newborn period this time around, even with its challenges. I know that this little guy is not going to be so tiny forever and so I can really savor him! Our baby, Daniel, is calm and pleasant (so far) and my husband and I are experienced parents, which I believe is making all the difference.

There we were! Thanks for all your support and well wishes.

Here’s to a fantastic holiday season to you and yours!

Taking a Maternity Leave from Blogging

(Me at roughly 37 weeks along)

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

You’ve noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of blogging about school lunch. More recently there hasn’t been a lot of blogging. Much of this is related to my getting pregnant this year, but also something has changed.

Early this year I realized that I had spent more than two years working full-time and then blogging into the night, every night. And I also wrote a book during that time. Finally, in March 2012, six months after the book came out (and my son turned 3.5 ), Charlie started being aggressive with peers and teachers at school. My husband and I were perplexed. What was happening? It seems clear looking back.

I was at a point where I felt like I could do anything with my future. I dreamed that I would found a non-profit or even just find a different job where I could focus on issues of sustainable food and kids. I embarked on a very brief search when things were interrupted. With Charlie having issues at school virtually every day, it didn’t take long for me to stop being selfish. It was time for me to shift my focus back on the family, on my being a mother who was present. He needed me. And while I couldn’t change his school situation until the end of the school year in June, I started making things better for him this summer up until now. In August when my dad visited for the first time in a few months, he noticed a change in Charlie. “He’s happier.”

That’s all I needed to hear to know that I made the right choices. Of course I have been spending more time with him, which I think is making a big difference. I’m really trying to be present for him, especially since he’s going to be a big brother.

This fall my child care/preschool expenses have doubled while my income has fallen. I changed jobs while pregnant (never do that, ok?). I’m working less partially because I’m not getting enough hours. It’s nice to have more time at home, but I’m not making anywhere near my old salary. This fall has been hard financially, especially because we bought a house that needed a lot of work and I’m anticipating an unpaid maternity leave. But my son, and my pregnancy, are at the center of my life at the moment. Charlie is doing a lot better for it. He still has “trouble listening” at school, but instead of daily bad reports, we’re seeing those behaviors once every few weeks. Also, his program is half-day. I think he really is not ready to spend eight hours away from home.

Now I’m preparing for the arrival of a second baby. After having a little trouble conceiving, I can’t really believe that this is going to happen. It’s yet another reminder that I need to be available and present for my son and the new little one. At least for the near term. Before you suggest it, staying at home with my soon-to-be two kids is not going to be an option financially for the family. Luckily, I’ve always enjoyed working as a speech path and I expect that I’ll have an easier time finding a job once I’m not pregnant. But next year is not going to be an easy one financially. Writing a book about school lunch reform was not the best thing for a job-searching, school-based speech path. I wear a red letter “Q.”

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to take a break from blogging while I’m on maternity leave. I’ve got 3ish weeks to go and I barely have a brain cell left at the end of the day. I’m going to stop posting now because, let’s face it, the content here has been less than stellar.

Instead of blogging, what else have I been doing with my time? When I had my son more than four years ago, I was depressed for several months. I’m really hoping not to experience that the second time around and so I’ve been busy building everything I think I’ll need to be more successful this time around. I’ll have family help for weeks (before: a few days), I live in a house with garage parking (before apartment with no parking), I have my own washer and dryer (before: pay laundry machines in basement), and I’m a breastfeeding pro (before: bad latch, mastitis h*ll). I’m hoping the environment I’m setting up will make me feel more control than I felt before.

So there you have it. I’m bound to blog about school lunch in the future, because my son will be in elementary school one day and I know there will be struggles. At some point I’ll find more permanent employment that will afford me the opportunity to advocate for reform. What I’m saying is that I’ll be back, but in the mean time…I need to take a break.

Sometimes I think is no longer the right place for me to be blogging. Occasionally I toy with the idea of starting another blog, one where I can feel more comfortable sharing about topics unrelated to school lunch. But I’m not ready to make big changes in my online presence just weeks before my second child’s birth.

However, you can still follow updates on Facebook by liking me or you can follow me on Twitter. I will be sharing occasional tidbits there over the next couple weeks.

Thanks for following along and I’ll see you on the flipside! (But I’ll be sure to pop back in to post a little picture of baby #2 when he/she arrives! Fingers crossed!)

Check out: “Failing” at #Unprocessed

In September I blogged about signing up for “October Unprocessed” on Andrew’s blog, “Eating Rules.” I wasn’t able to eat unprocessed food the entire month. I just didn’t make it. Andrew invited me to submit a guest blog post about my experience, which you can read by clicking over: “Failing” at #Unprocessed.

I’m in the last month of my pregnancy and I’m just failing down tired all the time. Sorry about the lack of posts!

Cookbook Review: Weelicious


I’m guessing that many of you already know about the blog: Weelicious. Actually, I know you know about it because I remember back in the early days of this blog some of you referred me to her.

Well, Catherine has come out with a book that I absolutely love (Full disclosure: While I was sent a copy to review and to keep, opinions are my own). I own too many cookbooks, but most of them just sit on the shelf. This cookbook is just lovely — and usable. The photos really sparkle and they make me want to keep opening the cookbook over and over.

Actually, I couldn’t find the cookbook for a few days and I was a little frantic. Turns out it was pushed aside and under a large stack of mail and magazines (yeah, that’s my house for ya). I was so relieved when I saw it and opened it up to the recipe for Baked Chicken Taquitos. Hello, easy anyone? …and gluten free.

I found almost all of recipes to be full of real food ingredients that help me keep it simple in the kitchen. I actually was surprised how many of her recipes don’t contain wheat or dairy. And the ones that do are easily modified. With kids’ diets these days revolving around wheat and dairy as well as processed food at every meal, it was refreshing to see recipes that are quickly made and gobbled up by hungry kids. Here are some other recipes from the book: 5 recipes from the new weelicious cookbook. Or how about Chocolate Velvet Beet Cupcakes? That’s right, colorful cupcakes without the fake stuff.

Catherine’s mission is to get kids to eat healthy foods while making it fun for them and easy for mom or dad to prepare something appealing. Her kids are adventurous eaters and they figure prominently in the cookbook. I like how she talks about feeding them. I felt a profound shift when I became a mom — I started to care about kids and food. It seems like she went through a similar thing, but she has the cooking education to really follow through with terrific food.

If you are are in the market for a cookbook about feeding children right, either for yourself or a friend, I would highly suggest you purchase this book. It’s a welcome addition to my cookbook collection.

Taking questions: Don’t forget about recess

 Being outdoors is good for you

Q: I was wondering if you were going to approach the subject of school recesses? I’ve taught for [Redacted] City schools and every elementary school I taught at, I was a floating teacher, had recess scheduled out of the day. The main school I taught at wouldn’t allow students outside and had they had less then 45 minutes of PE a week in a tiny classroom in one part of the building. My kids were often wound pretty tight by the end of the day even with the physical activity I tried to incorporate into my lessons.

A: Kids need to have a chance to run around outside during the school day just to let off steam, but there are other reasons why recess is important. I believe that movement is vital to learning. It gets the blood flowing and kids get a chance to be outside. Learning at school is too often based on classroom activities that we forget that kids learn from being outdoors too.

This year I’m working in a different school district. I’m enjoying the compare/contrast. My current school has recess and it’s before lunch. The kids get PE twice a week. The schools are much smaller (half the size of a typical neighborhood school in Chicago). It’s too early for me to draw any conclusions about how much exercise they get and their academic performance, but my first and second graders (special education kids) are excellent decoders — something I virtually never saw in Chicago.

For four years I worked in a school in Chicago that had no recess and once a week gym. Last year I continued my work with Chicago kids, but a different CPS school. They had recess and frequent gym. Working in the “recess-allowed” school it was obvious the kids needed to run around. At the school where there was no recess, it just became part of the culture and was generally accepted that no recess was just fine.

Overall I believe that recess is too valuable to skip. I’m rambling here because I’m tired but if you would like to read some of my other thoughts about recess, here’s one of my older posts: Why No Recess is a Huge Mistake.


Mrs Q’s News: Calorie comparison, palm scanning machines, and the spork!

Pictured: Cabbages at the farmer’s market…

You know how you get to that stage in your pregnancy when you don’t want to do anything? That’s right now. I pretty much can’t muster the energy to do what I need to be doing. I’m not a slacker, but I’m barely getting by. I have seven weeks to go. I’ve done this whole pregnancy thing before so I know that it’s easier when babies are “in” than when they are “out,” but still. I don’t want to move.

1) ABC news breaks down a typical fast food lunch in calories and compares it to the contents of school lunch.

2) What price is worth getting through the lunch line more quickly? Palm scanner to pay for school lunch concern some parents.

3) History of the spork!

Hope you are having a good week!

How to spend $20 at the farmer’s market

Pictured: Nine dollars worth of produce

I’m lamenting the fact that in my area farmer’s markets will be ending for the season in just a few short weeks. Boo on that.

  • Green pepper — $1
  • Corn — $0.50 per ear X 4 = $2
  • Tomatoes — $3
  • Little Cukes — $3
  • All of this produce was grown within two miles of my home.

The fruit was more expensive — $11 dollars above

  • Peaches — $6
  • Blueberries — $5

The fruit is from Michigan. These photos were taken back in August when I went to the farmer’s market with only a $20 bill and I had to stretch it. Peaches are gone now…

Here’s how to spend just $20 at the farmer’s market: Stick to produce — it’s cheaper and more versatile in recipes than fruit.

The  peaches were gone within days, but the blueberries lasted the week (as snacks or in cereal/pancakes). The cucumbers lasted the week too, though they started to get old — they were great as a snack or placed inside a sandwich. Corn worked as a dinner veggie plus leftovers for a lunch. Tomatoes were for snacking and the green pepper was sliced into rice.

How long could these veggies and fruit sustain your family?