Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quaker Chewy Superstar Search!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search. The entry period is over, but now comes the fun part- the voting! Your votes will let one lucky kid's dreams of becoming a superstar come true!

Go to the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search page here to check it out! Besides voting for your favorite performance, you can play Quaker Chewy Superstar Riff Master. It's like Tap Tap Revenge. My kids laughed at me while I tried to play. Let's just say, I am not a Riff Master.

You can also send customized ecards from Nick Jonas and watch a video about his rise to fame. And, another cool thing that makes this contest a win/win all around is that Little Kids Rock (a non-profit organization that brings music education to disadvantaged public schools nationwide) is the official non-profit partner of the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search.

Want to win an iPod Nano and some Quaker Chewy yumminess? Vote for your favorite video, then leave me a comment here and tell me who you voted for and you'll be entered into a drawing for an iPod Nano and an assortment of Quaker Chewy products. I'll choose a random winner on September 9th when the voting ends. Contest open to residents of the U.S. Good luck to my readers and to the contestants of the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search!

And don't forget to check out the page and watch these great videos from amazing kids and vote for your favorite! Voting began August 29th and ends September 9th. Have fun!

Quaker has empowered me to write about this promotion.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's For Dinner

Last week, I came home from school most days and wanted to pass out. It took everything I had to stay awake long enough to help my kids with their homework and brush my teeth. (I don’t recommend falling asleep with a toothbrush in your mouth.) I hadn’t planned out dinner and most nights didn’t have the time or energy to cook. I was naive. I was clueless. I was unprepared. I stopped at Chick-fil-A a lot.

Actually, I only stopped at Chick-fil-A once. The other nights, we had Taco Bell, and pizza. Some of you may ask what the big deal is. I mean, it was my first week at work after staying home for seventeen years. It’s understandable that I might have relied on fast food that first week, right? But the thing is, that kind of stuff is not in my budget. It was obvious I needed to change things, so, I came up with a plan.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Will the Real Dawn Meehan Please Stand Up?

Okay, so apparently there’s a contestant on the new season of Survivor. Her name is Dawn Meehan. My name is Dawn Meehan. She’s forty-one years old. I’m forty-one years old. She has six kids. I have six kids. Apparently she’s all fit and ready to compete on Survivor. I like rum. Okay, well I may not be exactly fit, but I compete in my own version of Survivor every day. And I win!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Orlando, where it's not Chicago, it's your host, the woman who (barely) survived her first week of school, Dawn Damalas Meehan!

Tonight's introduction was written by Austin who still misses home more than the rest of us put together. And now here are the answers to this week's questions.

wow [your teens have to catch the bus at] 6:15? when do they have to wake up or go to sleep?
Austin stays up late talking to his girlfriend. He wakes up 10 minutes before the bus comes, brushes his teeth, and runs out the door. Savannah goes to bed at a decent hour and gets up to primp before catching the bus. That's the difference between boys and girls.

6:15 AM? That is too early! What time is their school day over?
It's WAY too early! They get out around 2:00 every day, but Wednesday when they get out at 1:00ish.

Are you working at your kids' school?

What exactly are you doing at the school?
Beats me. I'm just trying to survive.

Really, what are you doing?
I'm working with the lowest performing kids; the ones who need some extra homework help and support. I help them to get organized, teach them how to form good habits, encourage them, and help them with their work where needed which means I have to have knowledge in each subject. Every day, I ask the kids, "Don't you need help with spelling? Grammar? Any punctuation questions? No? Nothing? Just math? Sigh."
Right now, I have kids in 6 periods a day. My smallest class is two kids and my largest is eight. Things will change after the first few weeks, however, and I'm likely to get more kids in my classes.

How do you like your job so far?
I like it, but it's exhausting. I'm not just tired because I'm working out of the house after being a SAHM for 17 years either. No, it's a different kind of exhaustion. I feel simply drained, mentally and physically. It's not like a regular office job where you can check your email, make a quick phone call, take a break, or go to the bathroom whenever you want to. People who work in education are "on" all day long. There's no downtime. You are always on and smiling and working and going... I'm not sure what I'll do if I ever have to go to the bathroom in the afternoon when I have four classes back-to-back.

Just wondering, do you have an education degree??
No. This is why I took that para pro exam a few months ago. I needed to prove that I know all this stuff so I could apply for the position. (BTW, I got the highest score possible on the test. Do you hear the crowd cheering for me?) It's a non-instructional position so I didn't need an education degree.

You really need to get to bed earlier. Let the housework slide so you can sleep.
Oh, I have no problem letting the housework slide, believe me! But I still can't go to bed early because I have to fit my writing jobs in somewhere. It's not optional. I love writing and I absolutely need the income it brings in order to stay afloat. Sooo, sleep will just have to wait for when I'm dead.

How are your kids adjusting to school?
They're adjusting, some better than others. The three youngest like their school and their teachers. Jackson and Savannah seem to be fitting in, making friends, and having fun. Austin, well, Austin is kind of shy. He doesn't make friends easily just because he keeps to himself, not because he's awkward or dorky or anything. He'll find his place to fit in eventually.

I still feel unsure of myself and probably will for a while. But on Friday, a student shared with me, a song she'd written herself. That was cool - that she trusted me enough to open up like that. I guess this new job might be okay. If I can get past the exhaustion. And the algebra. Oy.

Lands' End Backpacks

I always feel like it's an act of cruelty when I send my kids to school that first day, weighed down with all their school supplies. Over the years, I've bought many cheap backpacks at the store and I was always afraid they wouldn't be able to handle the weight of those supplies the first day. They generally did hold up that first day, but they rarely had the strength and durability to last throughout the year.

Not only are they super-durable, but they're classic. A couple years ago, I bought Clay a Cars backpack. Not only was it falling apart this year, but Clay had outgrown the Cars theme. Lands' End backpacks (along with their clothes) are timeless.

I've since given up buying those backpacks at my local store. It's not worth the money I save on the initial purchase when I have to replace them every year (or in some cases, less than a year)! These days, I stick with Lands' End backpacks. These things are well-made. They can take the daily abuse of hauling text books to and from school, and being flung to the floor every day after school.

Lands' End offers backpacks in dozens of sizes, styles, and colors to fit your needs. Many styles come with matching lunch bags as well! And, as with all Lands' End products, the backpacks come with Lands' End Guaranteed. Period. promise. Right now, you can get free shipping on your order of $50 or more. Just use promo code FREESHIP and pin 4229.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

With temps still in the 90s every single day here in Florida, it's hard to think of Christmas. But this is a great time to start thinking about Operation Christmas Child! Operation Christmas Child is a program run by Samaritan's Purse. They collect shoe boxes that you fill with small toys, school supplies, socks, shirts, washcloths, etc. and they distribute them to needy children around the world so they know they're thought of at Christmastime. For more information, click here!

My kids and I have participated in this program for the past few years, but it seems like every year, we start a little bit later and are scrambling to mail the boxes in time. So, here's my reminder to you guys - start now!

School supplies are on clearance and they're great items to put in your shoeboxes. While shopping for school supplies and back-to-school clothes, kids tend to develop the "gimmes". Gimme this, gimme that, can I have this, can I have that? What a great way to remind them to think of others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Kinda Like that Movie, Wildcats

The kids and I all started back to school yesterday. The little kids had a good day. They came home and reported that they liked their teachers and school. Brooklyn is giddy at the prospect of going to school every day. Ahhh, the innocence and eagerness of kindergartners. The three older kids were less than thrilled with their first day. The schools are big. The kids at their schools are different. They didn't know where and how to get their books or IDs, or how to request a schedule change.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm

I don’t know why, but I started looking through the pictures on my phone today. I have a couple nice cameras that I generally bring with me if I think there may be photo ops. But even if I haven’t brought a good camera along, I always have my phone with me and sometimes use it to shoot pictures of those unexpected moments that creep up. However, I rarely remember to transfer those pictures to my computer. Tonight, I did.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The One in Which I Lose It

It was meet-the-teacher night this evening for all six of my kids. Six kids, three schools, all tonight. And it’s not like my kids have gone to these schools forever. If we were still back in Chicagoland, I’d be comfortable if we didn’t make it to every school. My kids know their way around the schools. I know the teachers. We’re all familiar with the rules, dress codes, and procedures for getting to and from school, etc. If we were back home, we’d walk around the school while stopping every few steps to talk to friends.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Always the Comedian

The parenting "experts" recommend parents spend one-on-one time with each of their children every day. It's a great idea, in theory, but here in the real world, that's nothing more than an unattainable goal designed to make parents feel like failures a lofty aspiration. As a single mom to six kiddos, I'm happy if I can find one-on-one time with one or two kids a year!

Today, I took Lexi to get new glasses. She lost hers sometime between the last day of school and the time we moved to Florida because, for some odd reason, she can't manage to keep a pair for more than a couple months. I kept thinking her glasses would surface eventually, but I've since given up all hope of ever finding them.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sun, Surf, and a Renewed Spirit

The kids and I went to the beach today for a last hurrah before school starts. I love the ocean so much and I'm finding it surreal that I now live close enough to the beach to go whenever I'd like. I love the smell of the air. I love the sound of the surf. I love the soothing feel of floating on the waves. I love watching the seagulls and pelicans glide over the water, then dive in to scoop up fish. I love the warmth of the sun on my skin. I love the feel of the sand squishing between my toes. I love swimming in the cool, refreshing water. And I love to watch the power and energy of the waves crashing again and again. Bliss.


Monday, August 15, 2011

School Rules

I went into the school this week to check out my classroom. It’s a nice sized room and I’m so excited to decorate it and make it inviting for the kids who will be studying in there. I got a tour of the school and saw some amazing rooms that teachers had painted, stenciled, and decorated with plants, curtains, rugs, and other personal touches. I don’t have such lofty aspirations, but I did put fresh paper on my bulletin board and a couple posters on the walls. But the biggest change I made was in taking down the rules. Whatever teacher was in the room last year had TWENTY posters of rules on the walls. For the most part, all those rules could be summed up with Be Responsible and Be Respectful. I may have never worked in a school, but I know kids and I know that if you blabber on with rule after rule, eventually they’re going to tune out. And some of these rules . . . whew! They’re doozies! Check out a few of my favorites…


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Orlando, where it's apparently legal to turn right from the left lane, it's your host, the woman who may have just made the People of Walmart site, Dawn Damalas Meehan! And now, here are the answers to this week's questions.

Whilst visiting the US I have always been confused by the number of churches you have there, and what the differences are.
Join the club. I don't think most Americans know the difference between all the different denominations.
In the UK I belong to the Church of England, C of E, as its known and every town/village has a parish church belong to the C of E.
But in Florida they seemed to have names I just didnt recognise or understand - apart from the Catholic church of course!
I'm not familiar with the churches in England, but we have several different denominations here. Aside from Catholic and Orthodox churches, there are a bunch of protestant religions like Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc.
And we have Priests in the UK whereas you have Pastors? Our priests are ordained and wear a 'dog-collar' whereas your pastors always seem to be in a shirt and tie.
I think the Catholics have priests whereas most protestant religions have pastors. I'm no expert on this though.
Just think how confusing it is for us Brits when visiting trying to find a church that feels comfortable! :) And I was also wondering that I thought your family was from Greece (or do I have this wrong) and is there such a thing as Greek orthodox in the US?
There are Greek Orthodox churches in the U.S. and my dad is Greek, but that's not my religion.

But did the new church have donuts?!?
Ha! They didn't have donuts, but they always seem to have coffee cake, brownies, cookies, etc., which, as everyone knows, is the mark of a good church.

Hi Dawn: Where did you find that cute photo of the ARMADILLO just napping by the side of the road?
I take all the pics on my blog. We saw this guy a block from our house and pulled over so we could lean out the window and snap a pic and the little guy stopped walking and just kinda plopped down. Do armadillos play dead like opossums?

I was wondering, what are your feelings on Gothic teenagers? I'm 16, and I'm a goth, but I like normal things as well (like I've been reading your blog for about a year now), and my mum supports me 100%. She often times gets attacked for my decisions, such as, "What mother would let their child dress like that?" If Savannah or Lexington, or any of your kids really, decided to become "goth" would you support them, or try to disuade them?
Honestly, I would probably try to dissuade them, but I wouldn't force them to look any particular way. I'm all for letting teens express themselves. What's inside is far more important than hair, make-up, or clothing. "What kind of mother would let their child dress like that?" The kind of mother who knows that appearances aren't all that.

I saw you mentioned toddlers; however my son is 6 years old and we are having some serious bed wetting issues. I NEED HELP.Does Goodnights have an age cut off?
This is a topic I'm passionate about! Goodnites are designed specifically for older kids! They go up to 125 pounds and they look and feel much more like underwear than training pants. BTW, it's not at all uncommon for 6 year olds to wet the bed. There's a wealth of information on the site. You can even ask the experts your bedwetting questions and get them answered there.

If anyone knows where the cable is so I can plug in my fax/answering machine, let me know. I haven't seen it since moving. Everything is unpacked. I can't find it. It's driving me to the brink of insanity. Thank you and have a great week!

Friday, August 12, 2011

What Goes Around, Comes Around

I stopped at Walmart today. It was on my way home from school and I needed toilet paper and cleaning supplies, so I decided, instead of driving out of the way to my beloved Target, to stop at Wallyworld. As I walked in, a Walmart employee started to say, “Welcome” to me, but coughed instead. Actually, coughed isn’t quite the word for it. It was kind of like a, “Welcome to Walcough cough hack hack aaaaaggghhhh hauck cough.” And then her lung fell out at my feet. Without missing a beat (because I am so much cooler than your average Walmart shopper), I carefully maneuvered my cart around her lung and went about my shopping while Typhoid Mary spread her disease.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The One with the Foreign Language

As most of you know, my kids and I recently moved from Chicagoland to Central Florida. Although we like it here, we’re learning that things are very different down south. One of the things we’ve learned is that people are extra-friendly down here. And they speak a different language too!


Monday, August 8, 2011

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Where's 7?

First, let me begin by asking my friend, Doreen, not to read this. Doreen, close this window and go play on Facebook instead. Really, you’ll thank me for it later.

Okay then. Lexi’s friend, Ally (and my friend, Doreen’s, daughter) has been staying with us this week. The girls were really missing each other so Doreen put Ally on a plane to come visit for a while. When Ally and Lexi first saw each other at the airport, they ran to one another and grabbed each other in an airport hug like something out of the movies. I cried.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Goodnites Twitter Party!

I have a few different writing jobs, but one of my very favorites is writing articles for I just love helping parents who have questions about bedwetting! Tomorrow night I'll be participating in a Twitter party about parenting in the post-toddler years, hosted by Goodnites. Please join me! We'll be chatting, answering questions, trading parenting ideas, and giving away some prize packs full of awesome goodies including $100 AmEx gift cards! Who couldn't use that, right?

WHEN: Tuesday, August 2 from 9-11PM (ET)

Be there or be square left out and sad and lonely while we all have fun chatting and winning cool stuff. So be there!

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