Thursday, August 30, 2012

..back to school..

And so begins another school year. Can you believe it? I can't. This week we had the first day of school for the older two...3rd and 1st grades. The littlest will start her first year of preschool in a week or so, although she is almost a full year older than her siblings when they entered the same grade (so it goes for a November birthday). It will be a busy year, indeed.

One of the biggest stresses, for me, is packing my kid's lunch. It is not uncommon for me to open the lunchbox at the end of the day and find a lunch barely touched. I realize that within the allotted 10-15 minutes of their lunch hour, they may struggle to finish the entire lunch. More often than not, however, I feel as though they are just disinterested in the contents of the lunchbox itself.

This year, I am attempting to make them responsible for their lunch. They will have the task of putting  together their own lunch for the day. In addition, I will take the opportunity to talk to them about what constitutes a well-balanced meal. Left unchecked, these children would choose a piece of bread and a handful of chocolate chips for lunch. *sigh*  Thus, my lunch chart was born.

I took white boards that we had laying around, and I created different magnets of possible lunch choices. I did this using cardstock, double-stick tape, scrapbooking scissors, laminating sheets, and self-stick magnets I had lying around the house. Is it terribly obvious that I am a former teacher?? In creating the choices, I broke down the food groups as follows: protein, vegetable, fruit, and grain. To me, that constitutes a well-balanced lunch. I opt out of the "sweet," simply because that will be the only thing eaten (and I speak from experience, here).

The choices are color coded, so that the kids can recognize when they have a balanced lunch. Proteins are red, vegetables are green, fruits are yellow, and grains are blue. Some choices are mixes, but the colors reflect that. Their task is to choose a combination of available items so that they have one of each color, at least. My hope is that by giving them the freedom to choose what is inside their lunchbox, there will be an increase in the likelihood they eat a bigger portion of it. My preschooler is also getting in on the fun, even though she will eat lunch at home.

After their choices are made, it will be up for approval from the parent. When approval is given, then we'll get down to the business of making the lunch. Ideally, the lunch will be made the night before, but there are certain items that are best made the morning of. Either way, having this responsibility fall squarely on the shoulders of the kids will be a big relief for this Momma. I'm sure there are roadblocks to be faced as the school year progresses. I am hopeful that by arming them with a certain amount of autonomy , and the knowledge of how to best nourish their bodies, much less time will be spent eating the leftover lunch after school.

A girl can dream, anyway.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

..summer rewind..

Admittedly, my posts have been few and far between, but there are a few reasons.

Isaac's first tennis tournament - 3rd place finish
flag football game

ONE:  Three kids going in twelve different directions. I take full responsibility for this one, since I filled July with everything I could. Flag football had already started, but we added in tennis lessons, there was Vacation Bible School, a Lego class was squeezed in there, and we cannot forget the girls' dance lessons.....seemingly their most favorite part of summer so far. Add to that trips to the local tennis courts, parks, and getting together with friends, pool time, and you have a string of days that blurred one into the next. All in the name of exhausting our children. 

Newly finished patio area

New dry storage shelves...thank you, dear hubby

attempting to weed out/organize my own crafty goodness

TWO: Home improvements. We are trying to move. As it stands, my husband works 2 hours outside of town, and we are tired of living separately during the school year. It certainly could be worse, I know. But we have dragged our feet long enough and need to get our house into "selling condition," whatever that means. There have been many projects undertaken this summer--building shelving, painting, sticker removal (not my favorite), decluttering, and landscaping, to name a few. Organization and staging remain on our list of things to do, but those are best done a little at a time.

Blowing off some steam...or smoke, rather...

...with some old sparklers.

THREE:  Impatience. When I have found myself with free moments, I have been choosing to enjoy those as simply as I can. Whether it's sitting down to knit a few rounds, sew up a headband, or even have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband, I have found that sitting down to write about what's going on in my life currently is something I haven't wanted to do lately. There is a point when you are so overwhelmed, that you just need to take a step back. And this blog was where I took my step back.

But there are many things to share, I promise. We are getting ready for a new school year, and with it a whole new rhythm. This fall will be different, as we start new lessons, navigate new schedules, and my youngest will begin her first year of preschool. It feels more like New Year's to me now than on January 1st.

So here's to those new beginnings....and the stories they will bring.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Oh my stars. Our summer is almost over! July has been fraught with busy-ness, and now August preparations are in full swing. I did, however, promise to share with you some tidbits about our trip out West. It seems like a long time ago, but in reality, it was just a little over a month ago. Strange how many memories can be jam-packed into a little over a month.

 view from our hotel: Hot Wheels loop

The summer started with a trip to California to see family. We don't tend to do much touristy stuff when we travel, as our trips are more focused on the people we're going to see. My kids were happy enough to see the Hollywood sign (as seen in 'Alvin and the Chipmunks -- the Squeakquel').

Starting in LA, we visited with my husband's cousin downtown. It was quite a sight to behold as they set up for the XGames right outside our hotel. We also drove a bit further north to visit with a dear, old elementary school friend that I see once in a blue moon. I think my most favorite thing about seeing her and her family is how it never feels like much time has passed since I saw her last. Our friendship, to me, is just effortless.

fun at the aquarium
When we made our way back to the OC, we were able to spend some time with my mom's family. My aunt braved the Aquarium of the Pacific with our family, and we enjoyed seeing the amazing creatures great and small. I think the favorite part of the day was when the kids had the opportunity to touch the stingrays...or run through the dolphin sprinklers. It's a toss up.

 touching stingrays

For the remaining time in California, we made ourselves comfortable at my cousin's house in Laguna Niguel. We tried to keep things simple, so that we could spend time with my other cousins on my dad's side of the family, whenever it was convenient for them. And there was the added bonus of keeping a 3 year old's nap schedule in tact....priceless.

 framed favorite!

My kids adored their free time. Most of it was spent outside swimming (my son learned how to dive to the bottom of a 10 ft. pool), snuggling with and keeping in line 2 adorable Puggles (Frank and Stella), playing at the park or on the tennis courts. There was also some down time spent playing indoors, but no one could stay indoors too long with the beautifully mild of California's draws, to be certain.

how I wish I could grow these fruit trees where we live!!
I just love to catch up with family and friends I don't have the luxury of seeing very often. It's a special time to reconnect, relax, share stories, and just have fun. One night we had an amazing Mexican fiesta, another night my husband and I created an Indian extravaganza (ok, in fairness to the hubby, he did most of the cooking, but I did make the naan). But the real joy came in the laughter and love that we shared.

Definitely a trip that will have to be made again sooner rather than later.