Food: the way to the heart or to the mind?

There is something about food, isn’t there?  We all eat, so it is a perfect social experience.  Everyone is going to eat sometime today, so why not do it together?  We go out to eat with friends, we host dinner parties, celebrate moms-to-be with brunch baby showers, and the list goes on!  There is nothing quite like the prospect of food to get our attention either.  Boring meeting?  Add donuts and coffee, and voila! everyone is a little happier to be there.  Want to get new people involved in a committee or organization?  Promise there will be food and you’ll get people to show up!  Need help moving, painting, or building something?  Pay them with pizza!  Everywhere we look people are gathering around food.  Then there’s the popular saying, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”  I know my hubby seems to enjoy when I choose to say “I love you” by cooking up a special meal or treat.  I’d like to take some creative license with that old adage though, and suggest that food may not only be the way to the heart but also to the mind.

There is plenty of research around showing the correlation between healthy eating and focus, learning outcomes, productivity, etc.  And if you’ve ever tried to really concentrate on a project while your tummy was grumbling away, you’ve experienced first hand the importance of food to your mind.  So we can all agree that healthy eating is of the utmost importance.  As a homeschool mom of two littles I am also aware of the endless barage of requests for snacks!  There are days when I wonder if I accomplish much more than making, eating, and cleaning up snacks!  It’s hard work coming up with easy, no-mess, and healthy snacks all the time, and without breaking the bank, am I right?!  I have found that prepping some of those snacks ahead of time really cuts down on my workload during the day.  I buy the full size boxes of baked cheese crackers in the shapes of various water-dwelling creatures, bags of dried cranberries, apple and veggie straws, and other little tasties the kids love.  When I get home, I measure out a serving-ish into snack size zippy bags and dump all the bags into a couple of buckets I keep where the kids can reach them.  Now when it’s snack time, they can grab the bucket and pick out their own snack.  It’s a little tedious, but at least it’s only that way once a week instead of a million four times a day.  And it’s soooo much cheaper to buy the full-size packages than the individual ones.  My two also like cheese so I’ll buy it by the block and cut it up into little squares and put those in snack baggies as well.  You could do the same with grapes, strawberries, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, or any other little treats your heart (or their tummy) desires.  [A few of you may be wondering about all those plastic bags, and to be honest I considered it too.  I just decided that it wasn’t any worse than all of those little packages I could be buying from the store and that my sanity was worth it.  There are plenty of more eco-friendly options though if you choose to use them such as the reusable zipper bags.  Heck, who says you can’t reuse the regular zippie bags as long as you rinse them out…. and your child doesn’t destroy them.  I might even try to use small resealable containers one day.  Anyway, please don’t judge me for not being 100% eco-friendly with this idea. Us mamas got to do what we got to do!]

Another idea I had was to just combine snack into their playful learning.  If we need food in our bellies to learn, then it makes sense to learn while putting the food in our belly!  The activity I want to share isn’t the most healthy in the world, but it helped Bay start counting and working on his one-to-one correspondence as well as helping Punky start recognizing the numerals for some quantities.  And there’s nothing like marshmallows to get a kid’s attention, even a kid like mine!

All I did to set this one up is write some numbers on index cards.  I also spelled out the word for each number so Punky could work on some spelling while we were at it.  Then to assist Bay, I added little circles for each marshmallow to go in.  You could use a ten-frame instead if you wanted but this worked for us.  Then I let the kids choose a few cards, fill the bubbles with marshmallows, and enjoy a tasty snack after they had finished all their cards.  That was it.  Using something edible as the manipulative made clean up really easy too – there was very little left to put away when they were done.

 

So, do you think it might work to mix snack time and learning time in your house?  What foods would you use and how?  I’d love to hear your ideas – drop them in the comments below!  Happy snacking 🙂

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The Blessing and the Curse of Motherhood

My kids are 2 and 4.  They haven’t yet had the chance to go to school, not that I plan to send them to public school anyway, but it hasn’t even been something I’ve had to go through yet.  Both kids have stayed with sitters, either my dad or a good family friend, while I work, so they’ve never been to day care.  It was such a blessing to know that my kids were in the hands of someone I knew well and loved while I worked.  Don’t get me wrong – there is NOTHING wrong with day care or preschool at all!  In fact I have several friends who work in day care and my best friend since elementary school directs a preschool that I wish I could duplicate in my town.  But God blessed our family with the opportunity to have our kiddos spend all day with their second favorite person, Papa, or with our friend who has three children about the same age as our kiddos.  The closest I’ve come to the “going to school” experience is sending them to the nursery for an hour while I go to worship on Sunday since they are not ready to sit in the sanctuary.  We’ve even had our share of tears at drop-off, especially the first couple of weeks or if they were meeting a new teacher.

Tonight, though, I took my kids to Vacation Bible School. Continue reading The Blessing and the Curse of Motherhood

Dollar Store Staples

As an educator, learning is a major priority to me, and I am a believer in putting your money where your heart is. I have been known to spend way more than I should have picking up school supplies for home and my classroom. It was to the point my husband was more afraid of the office supply aisle than of the shoe department! However, I have learned over the past few years how easily entertained little kids are and how unimpressed they are with name brand stuff. If you don’t point it out, they just don’t notice. So most of my craft-tivity supplies come from my favorite store: Dollar Tree. Of course, you have to watch yourself. Not everything is cheaper there, and sometimes the quality, or lack thereof, deducts from the value of a dollar item. I have compiled a list of my favorite supplies to keep on hand that are easily found at most dollar stores. Continue reading Dollar Store Staples

Sticking to the plan

Sticking to a plan is harder than it seems! I know I can’t be the only one who struggles to maintain the will power to stick with eating healthy, spending less, or a schedule, right?! I’ve been working on a loose schedule for the kiddos and me so we don’t end up wondering, “What did we do all day?” But it is tough! I feel like I’m always making something to eat for someone and it’s exhausting. I’m hoping we can get into a decent routine soon so the kids and I can have an idea of what’s next and I won’t be constantly battling the million questions and supplying the seemingly endless desire for snacks!  So far our days look a little like this: Continue reading Sticking to the plan

Dad, Daddy, Pops, Papa…

A few days ago the kids and I started thinking about the upcoming day to celebrate daddies. Punky was insistent that we just had to make Daddy a card. And it needed GLITTER! Inwardly, I cringed. Outwardly, I said, “I bet Daddy will love it!” So we gathered up glue, glitter, markers, paper, and some cookie sheets to work on. Punky got right to work drawing a picture of Daddy and asked for help writing her name. She has practiced this quite a bit so I wrote it out on a separate sheet of paper so she could copy it. I was really afraid glitter would end up everywhere, so I was in charge of the glue this time. She would draw it out, I traced it with glue, and she did the glitter. That was a little scary, but she did pretty well! Bay drew a lot of squiggles, but we did some glitter smiles with a little more help from Mommy than Punky required. The final product was perfectly hand made and Pinterest worthy…. or at least fridge worthy! Daddy is sure to love them!

Continue reading Dad, Daddy, Pops, Papa…

I get by with a little help from my friends

Today was the day! It was officially my last day at school. As of now I am a full time stay and work at home mommy! This is the most amazing and completely terrifying thing I think I have ever done, but I am so excited to go on this new adventure and see what God can bring to me and my family through this experience.

Since it was my last day, and the last day my friends would be at their base school for the year, we had a little end of year get together. We went to one of those places where you are free to bring your beverage of choice 😉 and you follow the lead of an artist to create your own painting that *hopefully* looks something like the sample you signed up to paint. It was a lot of fun getting to hang out with them in a social setting and say a little, “see you around” before we’re all off to our various summer plans. Of course some of the other moms and I will get together with our kiddos over the summer, but tonight was a bit of a last hoo-rah to celebrate the end of a major chapter in my life. I have worked at that school since I graduated from college and have really enjoyed my time there, building relationships with coworkers, students, families, and other community members. Of course, that’s not to say there haven’t been moments where I wondered what in the world I was thinking to go back the next day, but overall it has been a wonderful place to work and definitely the best group of people to work with that anyone could ever ask for.

So, why, you may ask, would I want to leave? Why would I leave the only job I’ve ever know, ever trained for, ever wanted, to stay home and do laundry, and wash dishes, and all the other never-ending tasks that go along with being a stay at home mom? Well, it’s like this: I didn’t choose the mom life, the mom life chose me! (Thanks to all the freshman that try to keep my lingo up to date – I know that I’ve failed you miserably with this little quip, but it fits so I don’t regret it!) I have always said that little kids are not “my thing.” I was built by my creator for a specific purpose and given gifts and challenges to prepare me to fulfill that purpose. For quite some time now, that place of calling has been my high school. I truly believe that I have made a difference in the lives of many students. If nothing else, they will look back on their days at that school and know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that someone in that school cared about them as an individual and wasn’t afraid of doing what it took to help them succeed. I have loved a lot of students over my 8 years of teaching. I still get teary-eyed when I think of several who have held a special place in my heart for one reason or another. I believe that many of my students will seek me out when they find out I’m not going back for another school year. All of these are great and beautiful triumphs in my career, my walk of faith, and for our education system. But none of them is as important of a legacy as my own children.

I don’t want to sound like I think my children are better or more important that anyone else’s or that my time teaching, loving, caring for other children has been a waste. I do not feel that way at all. But I do feel like the biggest impact we can make on this world is to raise a generation that is loving, God-fearing, and hard-working, and what better way to contribute to that than starting with my own children? Could I raise loving, God-fearing, hard-working children while working a full time job outside my home? Sure! Are their parents who do just that? Definitely! However, I don’t think that this is the correct path for me and my family right now. I described it to a co-worker this way: There’s only so much room in my stress bucket, and school takes up a lot of that room. Being counselor, nurse, friend, parent, custodian, teacher, advocate, conscience, comedian for my students all day long wears me out. I get home and only have a little of me left to give to my own children, and then even less left over to give to my husband, and unfortunately God seems to catch the scraps most of the time. This is exactly backwards! It will be crazy and difficult, nerve-wracking and mind-numbing, monotonous and tedious. But at least I will have all of me to give to the little humans God has trusted me to care for. I can give the best of me to my God and my family first. Then if I feel like I have something left over, I can tutor or visit at my school. But no longer will my children, my husband, and my God get the mouse’s portion of my time and energy!

All of that to say, I will miss working at my school, collaborating with my friends who are my colleagues, and spend time with my colleagues who are my friends. I will miss working with those students who would have had a special place in my heart. I will miss seeing the ones that already have a place continue to grow. But, I am grateful for the opportunity to work at home, collaborate with my husband, and spend time with the Lord. I am grateful for my two children and the ones that I will have in the future. I am grateful for the opportunity to watch so closely as they continue to grow.

Before I go, I’d like to say hats off to all the teachers out there for finishing up a great school year. Cheers to you for doing what you do so well! Rest, relax, and take some time to rejuvenate so you can be your best you come August. Then you can get back to changing the world one student at a time!

Until next time…

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The results of our painting party.

A Journey Begins

So you know how sometimes you want something so badly but the timing just isn’t right and so it fails miserably? That was me 2 years ago. I had a 2 year old daughter and a 6 month old son. It was summer time so I had a couple of months before I was supposed to drop my kids back off at daycare and return to the classroom. Between the postpartum blues, the impending doom I felt about having to give up so much special time with my little, and my own selfishness, I was dreading going back. I managed to harass convince my husband that me resigning and staying home was the best decision for our family. I was elated! We were scared of the financial repercussions of transitioning to a single income family, but it was going to work out! God would provide and we would make it work! Well, God did provide, just not the way we thought. Continue reading A Journey Begins