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Thread: Suddenly SCHOOL!

  1. #1
    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    Suddenly SCHOOL!

    Yesterday, Mr. Janine and I decided to send our kids to a Montessori school and I am freaking out a little. (But in a good way.)

    The boys are in daycare right now, which is open 6:30 am - 6:30 pm and has fairly relaxed views on attendance and clothing. We've been considering Montessori for a long while, but the need for Son #2 to be potty-trained held us back. Well...Son #2 just decided that going on the potty wasn't so bad. And there's a lot of change going on at daycare anyway. And we just so happened to find a school that both parents agreed on. So we're doing it. Some lifestyle and routine changes will need to happen almost immediately because school starts next week, and that's where I could use some advice.

    1. I need to buy some boring clothes for the kids to wear. Their school dress code suggests garments without characters or designs on them, which I personally prefer but are hard to find. Unless you look in the "School Uniform" section of the store/website, as I discovered today. Nice! Lots of sales are going on now, too. I'd love to know your favorite places to shop for school clothes for little boys.

    2. I will have to start packing school lunches. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. I am so excited about packing adorable little foods for them to completely ignore. I've been cruising Pinterest for ideas, and I'm already a big fan of bento so I have some cute containers, but I'd love to hear more ideas about packing healthy lunches for tots. (They get to use a microwave if I send something that would benefit from heating < 60 seconds! Man, I dig this Montessori philosophy.)

    3. We're going to have to get out the door much faster than we do right now. School starts at 8. We have been rolling into daycare at 9. And the Montessori school doesn't serve breakfast like daycare does. I could use some ideas for on-the-go breakfasts that don't rely too heavily on Pop Tarts. I don't mind the occasional Pop Tart, or packaged granola bars, but I would like to base most of our speedy breakfasts on better-quality foods.

    4. And speaking of getting out of bed earlier, we're going to have to go to bed earlier, too. Son #1 is a dedicated night owl. Do you know of any ways to get a 3-year-old to fall asleep before 10pm? Sigh.

    All of the sudden, 2 years sooner than expected, we're tied to the academic calendar. It's exciting but a little scary, too. Thanks for any advice you care to share!
    Last edited by Janine; 08-07-2014 at 07:41 AM.
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    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  2. #2
    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    Regarding #3, I have this great cookbook called "The Homemade Pantry." It's my favorite cookbook of all time. The author has some recipes for homemade granola/snack/energy bars that I'm going to try. Sundays are usually my cook big portions days, and throwing a pan of bars in the oven while I'm also roasting a chicken and prepping veggies and making yogurt is no big deal.
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    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  3. #3
    Registered User Ilkyway's Avatar
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    Janine I feel for you. I have no twins, so my Girls go to school one after the other. When my first daughter got to school I cried like a baby. Last year my second daughter started school. I thought: hey I am a pro, I can do this. Well lets say: luckily for me, my husband had tishus on him. She looked so small and had to sit in the front row all by herself (among all these other tiny persons of cause).

    But here is, what I came to experience twice now: Having a tide scatchel in the morning means: prepare all you can in the evening:
    1. Lay out the clothes for the kids (if they are particular about their clothes let them be a part of it, you would not believe how particulare my youngest girl can be).
    2. Have the empty lunch-boxes and bottles on the kitchencounter and the bags they will go into next to it.
    3. Even if they can do lots of stuff for them-selfs (like putting cloth on or so), be prepared to help them with these tasks. You do not want to shout "put on the cloth" more than once in the morning. It is an ugly way to start the day, and if you do more for them for a while but have an easy start of the day, it is worth to do so. That means, you have to be ready to help them, when they have to get up. This may sound silly, but I thought at first: why can't I get dressed while she gets dressed. That worked before, why not now anymore? Well it was earlier, she had a lot on her mind and needed some extra help... It took me some time to realize it and than it hit me: only a happy mother can be a good mother. And if me helping the girls made everything smoother, than that is what made me happy. (I am not sure if I make sense here, I hope you get, what I mean.)

    With the lunch-box: Be aware of everything sticky or squashy... I prefer apple to kiwi or banana for example.

    With your night-owl: have you tried to let them hear a story on CD that they do know very well while lying in bed with the lights off. It has to be well known, so they do not concentrate on it and it has to be with very low volume, so they have to strain a bit to hear. This straining for hearing makes tierd and the story helps the thoughts to calm down. It might be worth a shot.

    Hope you find something helpful,
    Ilkyway

  4. #4
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    About cute school lunches--check out this site. It's not 100% updated as the blogger took a several year hiatus from the internet but even her old posts may help. And if I remember correctly her son was about the same age as yours in her original posts.
    Lunch in a Box: Building a Better Bento

    For a quick breakfast option try these. I love them!
    Personal Sized Baked Oatmeal with Individual Toppings: Gluten Free & Diabetic Friendly

    I modify the recipe slightly in that I don't use any sweetener at all (no stevia, honey etc) and rely on my toppings to sweeten the oatmeal. I also separate the mix in two and add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder to the one half making yummy chocolate oatmeal.
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  5. #5
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    Ooh, bento, you say? My friend Wendy created Wendolonia, and has a great book out with really good tips. I love her before and after pictures that show what came back home after her boys were at school. And I've been know to recreate her "kids" lunches for myself! The Lunch Box Idea List in the Bento Basics tab might help jump start some of your lunch packing.
    Janine and jess like this.

  6. #6
    Registered User monkeylady's Avatar
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    Re: clothes for wee ones....i don't know if you live outside USA, Janine, but if you live inside....Target, Landsend, OshKosh (harder to find tops without graphics all over them, but great prices on pants). Landsend is our new go-to place because we have one really slender one who can't hold his pants up and one very husky guy. We can buy husky and slim sizes as well as regular. They have adequate online inventory year round, unlike other stores, so when those August purchases turn into high waders by December, you have some choices. And while they have lots of graphics Tees, they also sell plenty of solids and stripes.

    Re food and lunches, make sure your wee ones can open all those containers in a timely fashion or at all! Or they won't eat. Make sure the school allows nuts/nut butters. Our school does not, and because peanut butter was/is a favorite protein source for our guys, what an adjustment we all had to make. I still struggle for non-meat alternatives beyond cheese and yogurts.
    (They're not enamored of meat.)

    Re breakfast on the run, homemade muffins (pumpkin muffins are my go to food), hard boiled eggs (pre-peeled) if your kids will eat them, or peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat sandwiches (my husband's on-the- run breakfast 5 days a week).

    Hope this helps.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

  7. #7
    Registered User flaneuse's Avatar
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    I usually buy gap or jcrew crewcuts on mega sale, and browse the rei kids sale section. Honestly, my kids school clothes are their regular clothes. The end. I usually buy 2-3 pairs of bottoms and 7 tops, 2 sweaters/hoodies and one of the 3 in one rain/snow/fleece jackets. 1 pair of shoes per season too. It makes life far easier.

    For lunches, I used to pack them the night before. Very simple ham and cheese snadwiches, grapes, carrot sticks/tomatoes and a cookie or a few m&ms. Nothing that needed heating. I used one of the original planet box lunch boxes for my son. He loved it.

    Breakfast is always simpe and the same: yoghurt with a little jam and musli. It is less messy and more healthy than cereal and milk. Occasionally I make a smoothie but only one of my kids and myself drink them, so not very often. Good luck!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    3. We're going to have to get out the door much faster than we do right now. School starts at 8. We have been rolling into daycare at 9. And the Montessori school doesn't serve breakfast like daycare does. I could use some ideas for on-the-go breakfasts that don't rely too heavily on Pop Tarts. I don't mind the occasional Pop Tart, or packaged granola bars, but I would like to base most of our speedy breakfasts on better-quality foods.
    I don't eat eggs anymore, but when I did, I was a big fan of muffin tin "quiches." Scramble up some eggs, add your favorite chopped toppings to the mix, pour into muffin tins, and bake! If memory serves, you can freeze any leftovers and reheat them in the microwave.

  9. #9
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    I have six kids, ages 6 months-10 years, and I work FT, so we are kind of pros at the whole getting out the door thing.

    So far as breakfast, I make massive batches of muffins (48 at a time) from the PDQ muffin recipe on the King Arthur Flour site and keep them in the freezer. I use freshly ground 70% flour, which is a local thing, but in the US you could use KAF white whole wheat and that would work. Sometimes I add a bunch of very finely grated carrot to the dry ingredients; no one has ever objected to this and it adds some sweetness. You can also do this with pancakes. When I was a kid my mom left a pitcher of pancake batter in the fridge for a couple of days at a time; my dad could handle the pouring it onto a frying pan part. Pancakes are also pretty tasty, and non-messy, cold. They are, like muffins, really easy to make from scratch; my kids who can read can make them solo.

    Some of my kids like cold cereal (Rice Chex, plain Cheerios, cornflakes), and that is fine with me. If they are running past a certain time, the possibilities for sitting down and eating have expired and cereal goes in a plastic bag to eat on the way. Other popular options include bananas, rice cakes with plain PB, and an apple with a piece of cheese.

    Pack lunches the night before. Every night. Always. We have the insulated lunchboxes from LL Bean, everyone has one with their name, and they go in the fridge overnight; sandwiches sit on the counter because the bread gets stale in the fridge, and everyone knows to take their lunchbox/their sandwich in the morning.

    This is more of a large-family thing, but we have a custom-built wall closet that has a locker-size closet for each kid. Coat, hat, backpack, shoes, go in there and only in there. This is supposed to eliminate the 7:45 am wail of "I can't find my shoes!" It's not foolproof but it does help.

    Re: clothes, Lands' End all the way. Sign up for their emails; they do 30% off everything every few months (free shipping), and 40% off everything once or sometimes twice a year. Their return policy can't be beat.

    Re packing lunches, we are totally boring here because the kids' school specifies that lunches consist of one sandwich, one fruit, and one vegetable, and nothing else. Since that's what all the kids eat, there's not much to discuss; I thought the rule was ridiculous when I first heard it but now I love it.

    Montessori is amazing. Good luck!

  10. #10
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    I remember that Michaels has plain tees in many sizes.

    They are used for home made Halloween costume or to decorate for dress up parties.

    I don't know about the quality.

    Dark cotton pants: check factory outlets of khaki makers, discount stores (Ross, Marshalls...), they usually get department stores unsold previous shipments better quality than big box stores cheaply made stuff, Sears (not expensive but really tough and they also have brand name)

    Some manufacturers of undershirts also make dark tees, sold in pack of 3, so significant savings.

    For lunch, a yogurt, a sandwich, a fruit and a homemade candy bar should be plenty.

    In winter, you could make wraps that warm up nicely:burritos, nan bread, falafel and crepes filled with things.

    Like rice with some sort of beans dressed up with chicken, cheese or a vegetarian filling that can be prepared in advance.

    On your Sunday cookout, the filling can be wrapped in the carb shell and frozen.
    3 or 4 can be set aside for Monday morning to go family lunches, they can be micro wave safely if wrapped inside parchment or butcher paper.

    Uh, you know to test any combo to see what they enjoy or not before you make a big batch.
    Janine mutters: "You though I just came out of the turnip truck?"*

    Back to our regularly scheduled program:

    I am not a big fan of plastic containers but you could use them lined with parchment paper.
    I find Lock and Lock brand the easiest to open.

    For sleeping open the explore.com page and go to the chipmunk page, all one hear or see is the sound of the forest and a cam that shows a patch of forest, One cam moves but the other is static, it is very calming and sleep inducing according to all the cam viewers and yours truly who is a night owl.


    *PS: Being French born, I don't know the exact saying.

    PPS: Pretty much every cereal has an organic/biologic equivalent.
    Last edited by backpack; 08-07-2014 at 07:36 PM.

  11. #11
    Registered User terayon's Avatar
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    For clothes, MEC in Canada sells good quality, plain kids clothes. I keep an eye on the clearance section; they don't have sales. You can join MEC from the US but not everything can be shipped there - no idea why. I don't know but maybe REI has something similar?

    Getting out the door can be tricky but we found that once we settled into a routine it was fairly smooth. I think the key is to allow yourself way more time than you think you'll need. Eggs in the microwave are pretty fast and easy. I like yogurt for breakfast and I usually have an apple on my way to work. My kids are fairly regimented - their choice - with their breakfasts. One has oatmeal or cereal and the other has peanut butter half-sandwich and a handful of Honey Nut Cheerios. Every single day. For about two years now. Not my style, but it's pretty easy.
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  12. #12
    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    You guys are THE BEST!

    Preparing the night before seems like a universal truth so I'll definitely work on that. Having a retired husband should help as well; he can focus on getting the three of us out the door.

    @Ilkyway, I want to go to Germany right now and give you a hug because of this:
    only a happy mother can be a good mother
    I've found the same thing; I can't get myself ready and be available for the kids at the same time. We've tried soothing gentle music at a very low volume and also soft enough to hear well, and neither seemed to work any better. I am thinking of trying an audiobook next. Maybe his mind needs to latch on to something before he can hear his body say it is tired?

    @Jess, baked oatmeal is great! We call it "Gruffalo Crumble". Thanks for giving me another variation to try!

    @tCook - thanks for the link to Wendolonia! So many great ideas!

    @monkeylady - Target is my #1 clothing store for new items. I've also had good luck at Old Navy. Used clothing is my first choice but it is hit or miss. We're doing a lunchtime test run this weekend so that I can see what the kids are able to achieve on their own. I'm sure it will surprise me both ways, LOL. Our school doesn't allow nuts, either, darnit. Hard-boiled eggs and muffins are excellent options, thanks!

    @flaneuse, I do the same thing with their clothes - all of it is school-ready. Bless his heart, Mr. Janine couldn't tell the difference between school and play clothes if the kids had to go to school in tuxedos. The Gap clothes are very well made and look great but they are generally out of my price range unless I get them used. I make my own yogurt and eat it the way you do (lately it has been chia seeds instead of granola) but the kids aren't into yogurt right now. I'm not so sad about that...more for me. :-)

    @bermudajes, mini quiches are a great idea! Thank you!

    @Abby, I bow to your powers of organization. The lockers are a great idea! I am trying to set up an area like that for our family, but Mr. Janine protests because it will be on the back porch (unheated) and he refuses to let us leave coats and shoes out there. The clothes won't freeze solid, they will just be 45 instead of 68 degrees F. I've been getting Lands' End coats in those great sales but so far their regular clothing have been too expensive. (We need two of everything and the boys are the same size, so there are no hand-me-downs.) I will continue to keep my eyes open for markdowns and sales. Do your kids get tired of sandwich/fruit/vegetable all the time? Can "sandwich" be interpreted as a wrap, pita, flatbread, etc?

    @backpack, the chipmunk page sounds lovely, thank you for the suggestion! I don't like putting food in plastic, either, so I'm going to look for pre-cut sheets of parchment or butcher paper. I also have some small glass containers that seal well but the kids can still open. Both of these options would be okay in the microwave. As for testing before making a big batch - it doesn't matter. I've made a double batch of a favorite food before only to find out that it is no longer a favorite!

    @terayon, I have been trying to get us into a routine for 3 years. It's a struggle. Mr. Janine does not like routine and without two adults in sync, everything I've tried has failed. I'll keep trying, though. Some days it all goes super smoothly and other days it's like dragging a boulder uphill. I read this really great book on happy families and one of the case studies was about a family who had mornings down to a science. Each of the 5 kids had a morning list that they could check. The little kids had picture lists and the big kids had written lists. But everything they needed to do or take with them was on the list. My guys are just getting old enough to understand the purpose of such a list, and I can further entice them by handing out stickers. My weekend project is to make a first draft of our morning chart. *fingers crossed that it will help*
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    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  13. #13
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    Janine:
    "As for testing before making a big batch - it doesn't matter. I've made a double batch of a favorite food before only to find out that it is no longer a favorite!"

    Welcome to the club!

    I find that making things I like and using the wrap technique to suit both my taste and my cute half's works best.

    Lately, we have been using a tiny grocery store full of lovely local products, however it is quite far and we go there only once a month for frozen, bulk and other non perishable items.
    We replenish fruit and vegetable in closer fruit stands and farmer markets.

    Much kudos to you for taking the time to share your wonderful sense of fun with us.

    Much cyber congrats for being a great Mom of Twins.

    Much cyber congrats to every Mom on this forum.

    It would be fun if Tom and the Lovely Crew made a Mom prize, like a tiara but something much more useful!
    Janine, nsh and Ilkyway like this.

  14. #14
    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    Thank you for the kind words, @backpack!

    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    It would be fun if Tom and the Lovely Crew made a Mom prize, like a tiara but something much more useful!
    This really made me smile! A tiara can be practical; it's a badge of rank and awesomeness. Even if a real one is never made, I will forever think that all the super moms on this forum are wearing Dyneema tiaras!!!
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  15. #15
    Registered User monkeylady's Avatar
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    Where I used to work in community mental health, on someone's birthday they wore a tiara all day, even the good natured men.
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    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

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