There’s nothing like good friends and a friendly project exchange

Happy Wednesday loyal readers!
Today’s post is twofold. One part of being a teacher is the socialization with your colleagues. You become very close with the teachers on your grade, and most likely, with the grade above and below you. However, teaching can be a very solitary profession. Once class starts, your door closes and it is you and your students for most of the day. You see other teachers in the hallway. Most times you only have time for a friendly “Hi” and “How are you?”. Then the bell rings and it is show time again.
Since becoming a mommy, as well as a stay at home mom, I have become close with two great mommies. I worked with them in the same building for many years and we use to just say hi as we passed in the hallway. Motherhood and our common bond of having all boys (there are five boys between the 3 of us) have brought us together as wonderful friends. We have had countless email chains and numerous playdates.
Since all three of us are teachers, many of our conversations are about projects we do with our children. Yes, I admit it: I do run my home slightly like being in a classroom. You can take a teacher out of the profession (for awhile), but you can’t take the profession out of the teacher. The three of us swap project ideas all the time. This simple project was given to us by Vanessa. Thank you Vanessa for this super idea!! (And Tracy, don’t worry. One of your project ideas will show up here soon :). )

For those of you who have toddlers and want to foster their knowledge of colors, you will love this. It is simple too.
These are the materials you will need:
Large sheet of paper (I used chart paper)
3 pictures of objects that are red, blue, green, and yellow (or any colors you choose. I used Google images)
Markers
Crayons
Glue or tape

On the large paper make four sections. Label each section with the color name. Put all of the pictures in front of your little one and let them categorize the pictures into the correct category. Let them glue or tape the pictures on. My son loved this part! You can then ask them the name of the pictures. I decided to write the name of each object after my son told me. We also went over the letter sounds of each beginning letter. My son didn’t want to stop so I gave him crayons that corresponded with each group to color each section. Below is a picture of the final product:
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We had a lot of fun with this! Since this winter has been super cold and being stuck inside because I’m not taking a newborn out in this weather, projects like this are a lifesaver. Thanks again Vanessa!

Yes, I have been MIA. But for a good reason :)

Hello my wonderful Mrs. Z readers! It is I , Mrs. Z. Many of you are probably wondering where I have been. The Mrs. Z family has now become a party of 4! (Well, party of 5 if you count my dog ;).)
My littlest angel was born on January 6. We had another boy! My biggest angel is now a big brother. Life has been wonderful and crazy these past few months. We are so blessed to have both of our boys. I am truly enjoying and soaking in all of the little moments this time around. I am definitely trying to be more present.
I thought I would share this picture. The simplicity of being a momma.
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It was just about a year ago that The Mrs. Z Files was started. I have loved every minute of it. The best part is hearing from my loyal readers. Your comments and thoughts are what drive my posts and creativity. So, I thank all of you for your loyalty.

I promise to post soon. We have many middle of the night feedings and I’ve already thought of some great topics during the midnight hours. Chat with all of you soon!

You can contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

Apple picking time!

Fall time. I both love it and dread it at the same time. A new season is a promise of so many new possibilities. I love the changing of the leaves and all of the exciting fall festivals. However, it is a constant reminder of what is coming next: winter. I have never been a fan of the of the winter. I rather dislike the cold and snow. It is annoying to have to put on a million layers just to step outside. The sun sets so early. It is rather dismal. For over 30 years I have lived in this type of climate and I don’t think I have ever gotten use to it.

On a brighter note, my family and I went apple picking this past weekend! Well, there weren’t that many apples left on the trees (maybe an earlier visit next year will be in the plans), but we still had an awesome time. My little one loved picking up the apples that had fallen from the trees and throwing them. We saw different animals and got to spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was a great day!

A few days before we went apple picking, we had a really rainy and damp day where we live. So, I decided it was time to do an art project. My son and I made an apple tree in preparation of our upcoming apple picking trip. It was really simple. I used a marker to make the tree part and the trunk. My little one then painted the trunk brown and the leaves green. I didn’t have red pompoms on hand, so we wound up painting cotton balls red (I actually wound up doing that part while little bub smeared his hands with paint :)  ). For a project that I thought about 5 minutes before we started, it came out cute! Below are pictures of the tools we used and the final project:

Art supplies:

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Waiting for our masterpiece to dry:

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All done!

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Hope you can use this project in your fall activities. Let me know how it comes out!

You can also contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

A super deal!

If there is one thing that you might have learned from me is that I love to save money. I mean, who doesn’t right? So here is the experience I had at the supermarket the other day. Like I always told my students: I have a photographic mind. Do not try to pull the wool over my eyes. If I see something, then I know it definitely happened.

I went to my local Waldbaums and needed to buy just a few things. I was making pizza for dinner that night, and I needed to buy frozen chicken. Now, let me address the frozen chicken first. I make pizza once a week. Every other meal I always use fresh meats, veggies, etc. When it comes to pizza night, I need it to be simple. So, I use frozen chicken. I know, not the healthiest of choices. However, once a week won’t hurt anyone. Remember, life is a work in progress!

Getting back to my experience. I was looking at all of the frozen chicken selections, and the Perdue Simple Start Chicken was on sale for $3.69. It was originally $5.99. I thought this was a great deal and decided to get two bags, which will last me  awhile. I then went to the self-checkout lane. I scanned my items and then scanned the chicken. It was ringing up $10.99 for one. I asked the girl who was covering the self-checkout aisles and she called a manager for a price check. The manager came over and asked what I needed. I explained my dilemma and he said “Honey, I highly doubt they were $3.69 when the original price was $5.99”. Two things: Never, ever call me honey (unless you are my husband) and don’t insult my intelligence. I told him to go look and that I would wait. Of course he rolled his eyes and gave a little laugh as he walked away.

When he was gone, I kept thinking about it over and over again. Whenever Waldbaums has a sale, they have little yellow signs underneath the original price to show the sale price. I know I had definitely seen it. The manager was taking forever, and my son was now starting to have a slow meltdown. In the middle of trying to calm him down, I see the manager walk over with a little yellow sign in his hand. He never looked up at me but with a voice that was full of defeat he asked how many I had. He gave me the two bags of chicken for $3.69 each! That’s right. I didn’t gloat in his face but gave him a huge “Thank you!” that might have sounded a little smug. But hey (in the words of my grandfather), when you’re right, you’re right. I definitely should have gotten more bags for that price. However, I got a bargain anyway. I didn’t want to push it :).

Here is a copy of my receipt to show the awesome deal!

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Has anyone else had an experience like this? Comment below!

You can also contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

A rainy day thought

Today was a rainy morning where we live. While my son and I were playing with his toys it reminded me of a rainy day during the summer. I had never shared this picture with you and I couldn’t wait to write to all of you :).

On that rainy summer day, we had played with toys but after about 2 hours we were both getting bored. So Mommy decided to take out the paint. I figured why not. Let’s get messy. And that is exactly what we did. My son fingerpainted for a good 90 minutes and Mommy just let him go (even though my inner voice was screaming “What a mess!!”. Sometimes my OCD gets the best of me but that day I just let him have fun.).

Paint wound up going everywhere. But the thing that I noticed more than anything was his hands. I couldn’t resist taking a picture. I just thought it was the cutest and sweetest thing. And now I will share it with you:

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Adorable right? I am so glad I let go of my insecurities about the mess. We would have missed out on an awesome painting session. But most of all just letting my son be what he is: a kid. Here’s to the little things :).

P.S. This is what my little Picasso made:

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You can also contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

Never forget….

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Today’s blog post is in memory of all those lost. I wrote this a few years ago for a friend who taught a high school English class. It was a personal account text.

I want to preface this by saying that I was not in the city on the day of this tragedy. I do not know anyone personally who was lost in the towers. I have heard many stories from family and friends about their experiences. My account is one from the outer boroughs and of a New Yorker who will forever remember and will feel that sense of loss. The true heroes of that day were the FDNY, the NYPD, the Port Authority Police, and the brave souls who saved countless lives.

I remember the night before (September 10th) I had gone out with a few friends. Being a college student, going out was a way of life. I had a 9:25 class that next morning and getting in late that night did not help the matter. I had gotten up at around 8:55 on September 11th and figured I was either going to be late or I would just cut class. I took a shower, looked at the clock and figured I would chance it. I turned on the TV to watch the news as I got ready. On the screen was a burning building and I thought to myself,” What cheesy movie is this?”. I changed the station and the same image was there. After changing to the third station, it seemed like something had happened. As I listened to the news report, the second plane hit into the second tower.  I was speechless.

Moments later, they cut in saying that a plane had crashed at the Pentagon and then in Pennsylvania. I remember looking up at the ceiling of my room and wondering when was the next one going to happen and who was doing this? I had never felt fear like that before. Phone lines were jammed, so it took awhile to get in touch with anyone. My cousin was a sophomore at NYU and his dorm was a few blocks away from Ground Zero. I can still hear my grandmother screaming upstairs saying he was alright. He was walking across the 59th street bridge, where my uncle would pick him up.

All day, people were walking around dazed and unsure of what to expect next. One memory that will always stay with me is one of a neighbor. We were all out on our porches, stunned and talking about the day’s events. A woman down the block from me had been worried all day because her husband had been in the South Tower doing construction. She had heard from him when the plane hit, but had heard nothing since. Suddenly, there was a scream and we all turned. Her husband was walking down the block and they just hugged. We were all quiet and then someone started clapping and that sound reverberated throughout the street for a few moments.

I went to Saint John’s University. When classes resumed, I remembered going into the room and was stunned for a moment. From the windows you could see the still smoldering Ground Zero. It was a humbling experience and that first class was one of silence and discussion.

Ten years (it is now 13 years) have come and gone since those moments. It still seems like yesterday. The pain never really goes away. I mourn the loss of those souls. I know this was a national tragedy. However, being a New Yorker, there is a scar that will never be healed. There is a hole in our skyline. It will always be there. However, those people that are now heroes did something that day that will never be forgotten. Their memory lives on in those smiles that we give each other every day. If anything was learned from this tragedy it is that of acceptance. We are all different. If we were all the same it would be rather boring. Think twice before you say something negative to someone. You never know how it will affect them or if it will be the last thing you ever say to them.

Please never forget….

Some people should NOT be pet owners!

This is a picture of my dog, Petey. I did not have a picture of the dogs you will read about today. However, I wanted to to include some happiness into this post since I am ranting a lot in it ;).

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You all know how I feel about animals, especially dogs. I have talked about my hairy son, Petey, numerous times. For all of you non-dog owners, we dog lovers always refer to our pets as children. The reason why is because they simply are another part of our family.

A few days ago I came across a situation that sent my blood boiling. It was a 90 degree September day and my little one and I met a friend of his and his mom for lunch. It was a great day out and a rather pleasant lunch (especially when it included 2 toddlers).  My son and I walked to our car that was parked by a CVS and I noticed two large dogs tied up on the fence. I wouldn’t have taken much notice, but it was really hot and they were panting on the black top. I went closer and saw they had no tags on and the leashes were pretty ratty and falling apart. I looked around and there was no one in sight. I went into the store to let the manager know about this and she just brushed it off. I told her I was going to buy water and a bowl so they can at least have something to drink. She got bothered by that and told me she didn’t want them disturbed or barking. She did say that she would make an announcement over the loud speaker in case the owner was in the store.

I left the store and was not pleased at all with the manager’s response. I mean, these are living things sitting in the sun on blacktop on a 90 degree day. I understand some people aren’t dog people, but do people just give up on living things that easily? Anyway, I waited outside for about 15 minutes (I had already been there for 15 minutes already) and no one showed  up. I then dialed 311 (which is a general information hotline in NYC) and they redirected me to the ASPCA. Unfortunately, the phone just kept ringing for 2 minutes. I was so frustrated at this point. I then decided to call my veterinarian and see if they could refer me to anyone or place. The woman was very nice and first asked if I wanted to bring them in to see if they had a chip. I said no since the dogs were quite big, I had my son, and I didn’t know if they would attack (they didn’t seem like that type but you never know). She then told me to call my local precinct and they would come to take them.

I was about to call when all of a sudden this woman walks over, takes the leashes and walks away with the dogs. I stood there stunned for a second and then called out to her asking if they were her dogs. She turned around and rolled her eyes at me and left. I then said that I had been standing with them for 45 minutes in the blazing sun and they had no water. There was no response from her and she kept walking. Unbelievable!

As a pet owner I would never leave my dog outside in the extreme heat for 45 minutes ( and that was how long I was there for. Who knows how long they were there before I arrived.).  I also would never take my dog anywhere without proper ID tags. This woman was totally irresponsible and should not own a pet, let alone 2 dogs. I keep thinking about those dogs and hope they live in a good home and that this was just a bad judgement call.

A sweet side note. The entire time we waited by the dogs, my son kept wanting to give them his water cup so they can drink water. He doesn’t speak in complete sentences yet but he would hold the cup towards them and say ” Ruff, Water”. It was really sweet and I hope I have taught him how to be compassionate to those who deserve it.

Please, be kind to animals. If you are not a dog person, that is totally fine. Dogs aren’t for everyone. However, do not treat them the way this woman treated her dogs. Remember: Pets are living things too!

Do you have a similar animal story? Comment below!

You can also contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

Back from a summer hiatus!

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Hello Happy Mrs. Z Readers! I am back from a refreshing summer hiatus. Time seems to fly by during the summer. We literally tried to pack in every summer activity you can do in 60 days. I think I need a vacation from vacation.  On the positive side, it was one of the best summers in a long time. I’d like to thank my little guy for that one. I have loved going to farmer’s markets, parks, pools, beaches, farms, and countless other places with him.

There was something I noticed the other day that I wanted to relay to you. My husband, little man, and I went for a walk with our dog a few days ago. It was one of those early September evenings when the sun is almost setting but hasn’t yet. (I could have just said dusk but why be so mundane ;). ) The temperature was a perfect 72 degrees with puffy white clouds in the sky here and there. It was really an awesome night. During our walk I did notice one thing: It was very quiet. I heard crickets and the last of the summer cicada in the distance. There were the few cars that were passing by. But there wasn’t the sound of voices. Then it dawned on me: school has started.  Children were probably involved in their nightly routines of getting ready for the next day. Then it dawned on me again: I needed to really focus on this night. On this sense of freedom. On how simple life is right now. In a few short years I will be back in the daily grind. Joining the work force once. I wanted to bottle that night and hold on to it. To use it as my happy place.

It is a moment in time that will stay with me forever.

Happy back to school to all of the kids out there and to their amazing teachers! This is going to be a super year!

You can contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

It’s that time of year…time to shop for school supplies!

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Wow! We are already a week into August. I haven’t been in the classroom for sometime but I always get the feeling right around this time every summer. For those of you who are teachers, you know that feeling. Just as you are getting relaxed and are enjoying your free time, it’s time to stock up and get ready for another year.

As a side note, I can hear the snorts and sounds of annoyance from all of the non- teachers, or people who do not support teachers. I don’t want to hear any cracks about having the summer off. I don’t want to hear how we “only” work 10 months and have tons of vacation. It is all true. However, don’t take out your jealousy on what you think is an easy job. I do not make any rude comments about your job, which I am sure you are amazing at. You had every opportunity to become a teacher. You chose another profession, which I am sure suited you best. So, leave the comments someplace else and let us enjoy our free time. I mean, if you have all these negative comments to say, why don’t you try it for a day. It is the best job in the world, but, if you didn’t become a teacher, I am sure you probably couldn’t handle it. (Was that a little mean? Probably. Oh well. I guess it’s for all of the rude comments I have had thrown at me for so many years. You can take it or leave it. Your choice :).)

Moving right along, let’s get back to school starting soon. I have seen a lot of my teacher friends ( and moms of school age children) post questions about where to find the best sales on school supplies. My first response is to try the dollar store. Now, I wouldn’t recommend buying everything there. The No.2 pencils are not the best. The erasers always leave a pink streak when you use them. The copy paper is kind of thin and not the best for printing. However, I would buy things like folders, Crayola crayons and markers, pens, etc. You have to walk around to see and make your own judgment.

After I exhausted the dollar store, I would scan the fliers I receive each week for good sales. This week at Target, for example, Post-Its are 99 cents. That’s a pretty good deal. Folders are 50 cents and scissors are 99 cents at Target as well.  If I were you I would also check out Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid.

My suggestion is to shop around. One tip that I try to stick to is not to shop too much at Staples. They have great products. However, they can be very pricey! I only go there if they have their penny sales or if there is a really good sale. I try to avoid that place until October anyway. The lines are usually crazy long from mid-August until mid-September.

Happy School Supply Shopping! If you come across any good deals, comment below. I am sure we can all use a good deal :).

You can also contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

A less sugary flavored yogurt

Happy Monday!!

I am always on the lookout for better choices.  You know the old saying ” Nobody is perfect”? Well, it goes the same with making better choices when it comes to eating. I had found a yogurt that seemed pretty healthy. The Brown Cow yogurt seems pretty healthy. If you look at the ingredients in the picture below, it doesn’t seem all that bad. It does have natural flavors in it. I do try to stay away from that in any food we eat since you don’t know what it is. Anyway, I have been enjoying this yogurt for awhile.

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However, I was always concerned about the amount of sugar in one serving. There are 27 grams in this particular flavor. 27 grams! That is a lot to me. However, I would indulge every once in a while. You still have to enjoy life!

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Then I was food shopping about 3 weeks ago and came across Siggi’s yogurt. When I looked at the amount of sugar per serving, I almost cheered for joy in the store! There are only 11 grams of sugar! I decided to give it a try and the yogurt is so creamy and the flavors are great! The amount of sugar does vary from about 10 to 16 grams of sugar. But that is fine by me. It is better than being close to 30 grams. Plus, if you look at the ingredients below, there are a lot fewer than the Brown Cow brand.

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I am not saying Brown Cow yogurt is bad. I will probably still get the cherry/vanilla flavor sometimes. On a regular basis, though, I will feel more comfortable eating Siggi’s yogurt.

These are my favorite flavors for both brands:

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I definitely recommend that you try this yogurt! You will love it!!

You can also contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.