Simple meals for kids to cook

We feel like it is important for our kids to be able to cook a few meals on their own before they leave our house for good.  Ideally they will also know how to follow a cookbook, but being able to do a few simple meals from scratch (or with a box) without needing access to the internet or an actual cookbook is a helpful skill that should be useful in all sorts of situations.

What are some of these meals they can and should be able to do?

Our kids can both do:
1. scrambled eggs
2. quesadillas/tacos
3. grilled cheese
4. macaroni and cheese from a box with tuna and peas
5. cold cereal
6. salad

I really ought to teach them how to do spaghetti with meat sauce and onions sometime soon.  If either of them liked chili, that would also be on my list.

My memorized repertoire when I left home also included (along with all of the above): fry-ups, swiss steak, chicken cacciatore, salad dressing baked chicken, and leek and potato soup.  I could also do random things with lipton onions soup packets and cans of various campbells soups.  I haven’t made most of these in years either because they’re not healthy with my PCOS or because the children aren’t crazy about them.

DC1 has been preferring to make desserts from cookbooks.  Along with that, most kids seem to like making cookies.  Although I have some desserts memorized (ex. dump cake), I don’t really have any worth making memorized, so we use recipes.

What simple meals did you make as a kid?  What do your kids make, if applicable?  What other meals do you recommend kids learn how to do before they leave home?

 

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RBOC

  • This summer has not been great for a number of reasons, which has led to increased anxiety.
  • My anxiety has started affecting my teeth!  For the first time I’m showing evidence of grinding!
  • DC1 is in an AP class this year, but cannot sign up for an online account which is required for class because zie is 12 years old and the FTCs COPPA rule prohibits them from collecting information.  (If you’re in this situation, this FAQ says what to do:  https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/join-your-class-online. This is incorrect, as we found out.)  This whole AP class as a freshman thing is bizarre to me– in my day you did no AP courses until junior and senior year and then you drowned in testing.  So… maybe this is better.
  • After being told that DC1 is 12 (because we needed the form), DC1’s AP teacher cornered hir in the hallway and asked if zie was absolutely sure zie was ready for an AP class.  It being only the second day of class, DC1 did not know what to say.
  • The AP director called the College Board and they said that FAQ was incorrect and we have to call to get the form.  Which… they could have sent to us when we called to ask why DC1 couldn’t register(!)  SIGH.
  • After being put on hold 6 or 7 times, they said they would email the form to us in 2-3 days.  I suspect they do not know where said form is.  We have a case number in case we need to call day 3 to ask where the form is.
  • We did have to call on day 5 to ask.  It came on day 6.  Then we got an incomprehensible email response after we sent the form in and after not getting clarification when we questioned, we ended up having to call again.  Now we are on day 7 of the 7 days that we were supposed to wait before calling about the account not actually being created.
  • the account was not created in day 7 and now we have a new case number to check on the account creation case.
  • There are 42 students in DC1’s Algebra II class.  That seems like a lot.
  • There are 18 students in DC2’s third grade dual language section.  That seems like not many!  Last year there were 21 in hir first grade section which seems more normal.  I guess more dual language kids move out of district than move in (generally only Spanish-speakers can move into dual language)?  Or maybe there are demographic differences by year in the number of Spanish-speaking kids in the district (which determines how many sections of dual language there are).  DC2 says there are two new kids in hir class besides hir, which is nice so that zie isn’t the only one.
  • DC1 has been watching an old Standard Deviants Spanish dvd, and it has a very young Kerry Washington in it!

What we’re trying with the terrible 7s

DC1 always gets phases late and DC2 seems to get them early.

Luckily when DC1 hit this phase, Wandering Scientist told me it was a normal age and stage (I think her pediatrician’s office had an ages and stages graphic) and the internet strongly agreed with that assessment.

With DC1 it meant sullenness and occasional bouts of tears and ramped up perfectionism, IIRC.  There was also some acting up at school.  And lots of silence when questioned.  Fortunately it was short, although we did get several emails from one of hir teachers who couldn’t handle it because zie was used to teaching college students, not elementary schoolers.  (Another more experienced teacher, when questioned, said there was no problem and her son had gone through the same thing a year prior and she knew it was normal.)

DC2 has become very emotional.  Meltdowns, temper tantrums, not wanting to do things, being scared of everything (ex. being unable to sleep because zie was afraid of Ancient Egypt), feeling stupid for not reaching hir own impossible standards.  It’s very much like a repeat of the terrible twos, except DC2 is less easily distracted from bad behavior and is more self-aware.

First up:  unlike the toddler years, DC2’s refusals to do things seems to be responding well to threats of punishment.  Taking away privileges has gotten hir to stop tantrumming and to do whatever it is zie needs to do.  Giving a 5 min or 1 min or count to five warning about having to stop screaming and put on hir clothes or play piano or go into the gymnasium for camp on pain of losing screen time privileges or not getting to eat out at hir favorite restaurant has been effective.  I suspect bribery may also be effective, but I don’t want to incentivize bad behavior.  I guess technically we already have rewards in place for things, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to take them away as privileges.  Adding on beyond that in the face of bad behavior may not be a great idea.

The next thing we’re trying to do is to add more attention and more quiet time and make sure zie has eaten and all those things we did when zie was a toddler and seemed to need more attention or less stimulation.  DC2 at age 7 wants to talk about hir feelings and hir fears a lot more than zie did at 2.

And finally, we’ve gotten some books about elementary schooler anxiety and have been working through them with hir.  The best of these for hir level has been What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner.  It’s basically cognitive behavioral therapy at an elementary school level.  It also relates worries to tomatoes, and DC2 hates tomatoes, so it resonates.  After going through the book once, DH was able to get DC2 through the Metropolitan Museum of Art (even the Egyptian room that DC1 wanted to see) even though zie had refused to set foot in the Museum of Fine Arts a week or two prior.

Things seem to have settled down a bit with the start of school.  Hopefully the phase is winding down and DC2 will be back to hir normal self.

Have you gone through the terrible 7s?  Have there been other ages with these kinds of stages?

 

Ask the grumpies: Do you read the books your kids read?

Leah asks:

Do you read the books your kids are reading? At what age seems good to stop doing so? It feels weird to me (since I have little kids) to imagine a day when they’re reading books that I haven’t read.

… Are the books in question interesting?  If so, yes.  If not, no.  I don’t think we’ve ever screened books for our kids other than to warn DC1/2 that the third Harry Potter might be too scary and the fourth one definitely is.  (DC2 turned out to be fine with Harry Potter #3, unlike DC1.  DC2 was also able to watch Star Wars at a much younger age without freaking out about it.)

I guess this goes back to our lazy parenting philosophy!

Ask the grumpies: Why Leah needs to get a will

Leah asks:

How essential is a will, and how do I get over the inertia and actually get one since I suspect it’s likely really important?

If you don’t have kids, a will probably isn’t that essential unless you’re wealthy and care what happens to your money after you’re gone.  You’ll be dead and may not care if your potential heirs end up giving all your money to lawyers trying to figure out who gets what.  If that’s the case, just let probate deal with stuff.  If you’re wealthy enough to be affected by the estate tax, dying without a will means that the government will probably end up with a greater share as well, but I have a hard time feeling sorry for people in that category.

If you have kids who are not yet adults, you need a will because you need to make it clear where your kids will go (and who will take care of their money) in the event that both parents die.  This alone is the reason we got wills.  If you have kids, providing for their future care is an important responsibility and should be done ASAP.  You don’t want them to end up in the foster care system even temporarily.  It’s also important to make sure that you have named the person who will be taking care of any assets you leave them, for example, the life insurance that you have also purchased because you have minor children.  We have named DH’s brother and his wife’s family as the first place our kids would go (with their permission), but my sister would be in charge of their inheritance.  Her values about paying for education and so on are more in line with ours and she would be better able to force DH’s brother and wife to take an annual stipend for their upkeep.

It is also useful to have advance directives about what happens if you are incapacitated, though depending on what state you live in, you can do this with your doctor or using an online form rather than with your lawyer.  This was part of the full package when we did our wills.  Here’s the info for MinnesotaMichigan allows you to file yours in a statewide registry, which is pretty cool.

How to get over the inertia?

Right now.  I mean, literally right now, contact a bunch of people in your area to ask them who they have used for a will.  Once you’ve got a name, MAKE AN APPOINTMENT.  Spring break is probably a good time to actually go in, but make that appointment now.

Now, they may send you a long form asking detailed minutia about your assets.  If your net worth is nowhere near the estate tax limit, do not let this form stop you from actually going in.  Let them know that you don’t need anything fancy because your wealth is lower than 2.7 million, the estate tax limit in Minnesota (or 11.4 million if you live in Michigan, since Michigan has no estate tax…), (actually, let them know it’s lower than 1 or 2 million if that is true), so that other stuff is irrelevant.  Then you might not need to fill out the form.

You, Leah, (and your DH) need a will because you have kids.  Having a will is the responsible thing to do.  It will be pricey (ours was ~$500, but that was a decade ago!  Though we get to update ours for free in perpetuity as part of that upfront cost), but it will be worth it for your kids if the worst possible thing happens.  It’s worth saving up for.  It’s worth taking out of your emergency fund.

Grumpeteers, how did you get your will done?  Anyone have success with online outfits like legalzoom?

I don’t even know what to title this post: more bus stop drama

Remember this post about the lady who blocks the bus with her SUV every school morning during dropoff?

This year her youngest daughter is the only other person assigned to our bus stop.  Everyone else is now in middle school.

On the first day of school, she informed DH that she was moving the bus stop so that it would be the de jure bus stop listed online rather than the de facto bus stop that the neighborhood kids had been using for years.  Since the one listed online is directly across the street from our house, we did not complain.  The bus first stopped at the old stop and then moved forward to the new stop.  The new stop is 3 houses away from her house rather than the 5 houses before.  (Yes, it is ~80 degrees in the morning.  Yes, there are sidewalks, though she would have to cross the street from her house to use them.  Yes, I have seen her and her two daughters walk longer distances from the school parking lot to the school front door and I’ve seen the daughters run around the playground without any apparent ailments so I don’t *think* there’s a disability, but disabilities can be invisible, so maybe there’s a reason for her to drive instead of walk.  They all look like they’re in great shape, and they have a ton of equipment in their backyard but you still never know.)

Importantly, with the new stop, she can just drive straight to get there.  There is no need to turn on the busy street.  There is no need to park where the bus is supposed to pick up kids.  And indeed, on Monday she just pulled through and stopped on that corner.  I thought, how lovely, this solves the problem of her being a thoughtless person.  I don’t have to seethe silently this year whenever DH is out of town.

On Tuesday she got to the stop early and decided that she wanted to make her U-Turn *before* the bus got there rather than after (note:  there are actually several ways to get turned around on this street without doing a U-Turn or 3 point turn at all because it’s a cul-de-sac with a side-loop and also there’s nobody living in the house where the bus stop is right now, so she could even park in the driveway there), so she U-Turned and then had to cross the street with her daughters on foot.

On Wednesday she decided that was a terrible idea and instead of pulling through, made a right on the busy street, made a U-Turn in the middle of the busy street, and parked right where the bus is supposed to stop.  Then, because she had come early, she came out with her daughters and I think wanted to chat.  But instead I asked, politely (honest!), “Isn’t that kind of dangerous?” and she asked what?  and I said, “blocking where the bus pulls up?”.  And she said that the bus driver didn’t mind in the afternoon when she does it at pick-up.  She had asked him at pick up.  She could ask him now.  How is it dangerous anyway?  And I said that the bus had to stop in the middle of the street and the kids had to walk into the street to get on it, and it seemed dangerous to the kids and to the cars.  [Yes, I know cars are supposed to stop both ways for school buses, but while the ones behind usually do, the ones going the other direction often don’t.  And although this street isn’t that busy at 6:50 am, there are still cars whipping around the corner of my house which is a bit of a blind curve in the road.] And she repeated she could ask the bus driver.  And I repeated it was dangerous.  And she asked if I wanted her to move now, and I gave a micronod.  And she moved her car to the corner of the cul-de-sac (after making a U-turn so she would be pointed in the direction home) and crossed the street.

And the bus came and I told DC2 to stand back on the sidewalk.  And her kids remained balanced precariously on the curb so the bus couldn’t really pull up that closely without endangering them if they fell.  The bus came, I left, she talked to the bus driver, but I did not overhear their conversation.

The next morning I thought to myself, omg, I sure do not want to see her again, but DH is on a business trip and I have to be home to take care of Little Kitty (it would turn out to be her last week with us) and lock the door behind DC1 before heading into a long day of work.  I am an adult, I told myself, this was not that big an altercation.  I can do this.  So I went to the bus stop with DC2.

And the SUV didn’t come.  The bus got there on time at 6:59 and her SUV turned right on the main street at 7:01 after the bus had left and I was almost to my house.  Ok, I thought, either she had trouble getting everybody ready this morning, or she misjudged how much time it would take to avoid me, not expecting the bus to get there on time since it hadn’t the first three days of school.

Then on Friday she didn’t show up either.

And here’s the funny part.

When DC2 got home, zie told me the daughter was *already on the bus* when DC2 got on.  That means this woman is driving to another bus stop to avoid me!  All because I suggested she park someplace that was safer and *actually less effort* for her to wait.  I hadn’t said anything before because it was more effort for her to pull into one of the side-streets last year, but in this case it seemed like there were easier alternatives (if there’s a disability, then parking on the side-street part of the corner is the same walking distance and less driving!).  I didn’t even tell her it was less effort, I just used the questioning tone women use when they’re being polite to suggest that blocking a school bus could potentially be dangerous, explained why when asked, repeated that I thought it was dangerous, and then thanked her for moving her vehicle.  None of the kids had even seemed to notice the conversation and DC2 was confused about why the daughter had moved bus stops, which is how we found out.

The big question I have (well, actually I have two, but I will never know the answer to the question of whether or not she blocks the bus at the stop she drives to because I am an adult and I have better things to do with my time) is whether or not she will return to the bus stop when she realizes it’s DH standing there with DC2 (and will she block the bus?– DH tells me he has no intention of fighting this fight.).

RandomBraggingOnChildren

  • DC1 has always been exactly average height for hir age/non-skipped grade.  DC2 has always been a bit tall for hir exact age, which put hir as average or a little above average for hir grade (because zie has a late summer birthday), but over the summer this year, zie has gotten HUGE.  Zie is towering over kids in first grade with early Fall birthdays.  Zie isn’t the tallest, but zie is close.
  • Also this summer DC2 decided to skip over things like Magic Treehouse or Cam Jansen or the A to Z mysteries and go straight from books with lots of pictures and badly behaved main characters (Bad Kitty, Franny K. Stein, etc.) to Harry Potter.  We’re not quite sure how that happened.  Or where to go from here.  Zie also loves Ramona books.  Basically it seems like zie completely skipped things at 2nd-4th grade reading and interest level other than a brief flirtation with Junie B. Jones.
  • Did I mention that DC2 is absolutely brilliant in math?  Zie has this amazing intuitive understanding of the number system that makes my heart happy whenever zie explains connections zie has figured out to me.
  • We got the learning outcomes for first grade.  They want kids to end at level “J” which is where DC2 ended Kindergarten before this big reading advancement this summer.  And math looks like another completely uninspiring year.  If zie was better at Spanish this would have been a very good year to skip.  But hir teachers seem nice, and oddly they both already knew DC2’s name at back to school night (not true of all of the kids), so maybe they’ve been warned.  They’ve also re-sorted the GT kids across the two classes — I think maybe by gender.  Sadly DC2’s best friend is in the other dual-language class (which was also true last year– they hang out in the after school program), but happily zie isn’t stuck with the one GT kid who actively doesn’t like hir, and there’s not just the one.  (Last year there were 2 in DC2’s class and 4 in the other class.  This year it seems to be 3/3, girls in one class, boys in the other.) [update!  The GT kid DC2 was paired with last year didn’t show up, so they put *all* the GT kids in DC2’s class the first day of class.  DC2 is thrilled.]
  • DC1 has gotten into geometry proofs.  It was hard starting at first– I’d forgotten how frustrating it always is to start a new proof-based subject not knowing what you’re allowed and not allowed to assume.  (I remember back in Number Theory in high school where we had to prove addition (using definitions for distance, IIRC) before we could assume it!  That was super frustrating!  And then in Real Analysis in college we proved addition in a completely different way (set theory, I think?), but that was more in the middle of the semester and less frustrating.  Math is so amazing with the way it all just works.  Well, except for paradoxes and unprovable things but those are really cool too.)  And this is hir first foray into proof-based anything so zie hadn’t had the experience of being initially frustrated an then getting used to the new rules.
  • There’s a new teacher for geometry at the middle-school, coming over from high school.  She sent a very nice email talking about how she’s not really sure how to go about teaching the class in terms of homework and lecture vs. classwork and providing the schedule for the class.  There’s about a 6 week unit on proofs, but the rest is non-proof stuff, including a unit on the end on construction, so I feel vindicated in going through proofs with DC1 this summer.  Plus I had forgotten that the book I’m using has a lot more intro-to-proof stuff that will be useful in later classes that isn’t necessarily there for geometric purposes (indirect proofs, paragraph proofs, etc.)
  • After being obnoxious about two column proofs and complaining that paragraph proofs were somehow better, DC1 has converted into a two column proof evangelist.  They take less writing.
  • DC1’s feet are the same size as mine now.  Hands are still smaller though.
  • My kids are seriously into seaweed snacks.  I don’t understand it at all– I couldn’t handle the taste of dried seaweed until late college, and I still prefer more mild seaweed on my sushi.  (Seaweed salad, otoh, is delicious and has always been.  But that’s a different thing.)