Friday, December 31, 2010

Why Buy Play Food...

when you can buy Play Doh? After being home for a few days during Christmas vacation, my daughter got into her play kitchen again. She was really wanting to "make" food and she didn't have all the food she wanted to serve. Like eggs. Or certain veggies. So on Christmas Eve I decided to stop by the local "crap" store to see if they had anything that would work. (I call it that because everything you buy there will break eventually. Like a little Walmart :) They had a cheap basket of really sad looking plastic food that didn't fit the bill. And then I got an ingenius idea...PLAY DOH! Heck, with Play Doh you can make anything you want, again and again. And Christmas day, that's exactly what she did. Below you can see my egg, sausage and hashbrown breakfast; pizza, asparagus (and some "others"); and of course Lucky Charms. She had a great time in her kitchen seeing what she could come up with. The funny thing is, my mom has pictures of my sister and I when we were little, and my dad and mom eating our Play Doh concoctions. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner!

P.S. Check manufacturing location on your Play Doh labels if you don't want to buy products from China. Make your own if you know how...this is something I've not done well with!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bringing My Kids Back Home

Last spring, I enrolled my children in school for the first time. They entered 2nd and 3rd grade, and really liked being at school. But we are halfway into this school year, and the honeymoon period is over. They are both ready to be home and tell me often that they want to homeschool again. I don't blame them. They have great teachers, so I guess it could be worse. I've been around long enough to know that there are some bad teachers out there. But slowly, all the reasons I was against schooling have come to fruition.
My biggest complaint is the wasted time. This is no one's fault, but inherent in trying to meet the needs of a large group of children. There are things that bore my children to death because they are not being challenged. And then there are times that they need more help, in math, for instance, because there are things that were not covered from one curriculum to the next.
The other thing that bothers me, like most parents, is the amount of "knowledge" that other kids share. Now, where this "knowledge" comes from is a mystery to me, but if you hang out long enough where we live, you will notice the way parents talk in front of their kids. The language is filthy, using every curse word you can imagine, as if it is a normal part of everyday conversation. So if parents aren't careful about language in front of their kids, what else are they exposing them to?!
We are planning on moving soon, as soon as we can get our house sold. I'm hoping after the move we will be able to pick back up on homeschooling, but I know that things will be tight. I am a single mom, receiving no child support. My home business almost covers expenses, so I will have to build on that and hope that there is enough. This is very important to me, not only because I want my kids to receive the best education possible, but also because it will provide them more free time to work on the things that they really love. My daughter loves dancing, art, gymnastics, singing, and wants to try acting. My son loves playing sports and Taikwondo. When they are in school all day, their free time is very limited. It just doesn't work for us.
So I'm committed to finding a way to allow my children to stay at home. They are worth it, and I know deep down it is the best thing for them and for our family.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lunch Bags for School or Stay at Home Children

When I came across this lunch bag system, I was looking for a system that would make daily lunches for my kids more simple to put together (as well as wash!) But after finding it, I realized all the other uses for the system, such as our five hour swim meets in the heat of the summer, or trips to the zoo. I didn't have these in hand in time for the swim meets, but I'm excited about using them for school this year. I've committed to packing my kids' lunches this year after they started school last spring. Not only have they finally confessed how bad the food tasted, they both had constant stomach aches. Hopefully this year will be different, and hopefully I won't be pulling my hair out in the mornings trying to provide them with nutritious foods that they don't bored with. Anyway, here is the lunch bag system, which by the way, is lead-free, phthalate-free, and BPA-free.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Public School

It's been about seven weeks since I enrolled the kids in school, and I wanted to stop in and share how they are doing. My daughter, the one who didn't really want to go to school is doing fine. She is learning things I'd rather she didn't, but there is nothing major that she wouldn't pick up on the playground around here. My son, on the other hand, the one really excited about starting school, has totally become a different child...for the good! He seems happier, more relaxed, and much more talkative. His sense of humor has really come out and he even likes it when you laugh at him now!
I'm not sure why he has flourished away from home. I do know that his sister was driving him crazy here at home and I can't say that I blame him. She can be a bit much for me sometimes, but I am an adult and know how to handle it. He has not figured it out yet, but one day I'm sure he will. I have also noticed that there are more times than before that they will "love" one another. I think they secretly miss each other even though their classrooms are right next to each other. They still push each other's buttons just for kicks, but it is different now.
I am also much happier and more relaxed. There are little things that bug me like the crappy lunches and the recess teacher not letting my daughter go to the bathroom when she needs to, but they both love their teachers and they are great women who seem to love what they do. I can't ask for much more!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Things We Miss...

It only took a few days of my kids being in public school to re-affirm something to me. Because our kids are in school all day, there are things that parents miss. Not the fun 'lightbulb' moments, or the laughs, or the hugs and fun things like that. This is a bit more serious.
I figured out long ago that my daughter was very sensitive to artificial colors in foods. Had I not had her in my care 100% of the time, this is probably something I would have missed. As her full time parent and teacher, I saw how everything she ate affected her, whether it was in her behavior or in physical complaints. But parents often don't realize there is a problem until they get a note from school mentioning 'testing', 'ADD', or 'ADHD'. Houston, there might be a problem.
I did a lot of research on artificial colors specifically, and found two sides. One that says it affects children, and they should avoid it. Another says that it does not affect children, and it is safe. If you know with 100% certainty that your child becomes a different person after consuming artificial colors, what side do you get on?
Well, the problem is that many parents never see the link...and here is why. IF they eat breakfast at home, children go to school soon after. The parents do not get the chance to observe their children's behavior. But the teacher does. (Does Suzie need to be tested for ADD?)
At our school, the children are led to the lunchroom by the teacher, who then goes to eat somewhere else. There is a cafeteria worker who supervises the kids to make sure nobody gets out of line. (It is a very small school). When the kids go back to class, the teacher has no idea what anybody ate. Some kids are fine, others may be bouncing off the wall. Some are not hyper, but in a drug-like trance (this is my daughter). Nobody is following these kids all day, seeing what they eat or drink and wondering if there is a connection. Even at recess there are stand-ins for the teacher.
Do you understand why so many people don't see the connection between food additives, colors, preservatives, and even high fructose corn syrup? Our children are like tiny scientific experiments that were abandoned by their scientists (parents!). If your child seems to have trouble concentrating, staying still, or getting work completed, try changing his diet before you put him on drugs. If your child is like my daughter, there is SO much intelligence there that the drugs are only going to squelch. You may not ever get your child 100% compliant with diet (what child IS 100% compliant?!) but if you see a positive improvement, keep the change going and it will only get better.
We are proof that food additives cause problems for kids. And we are proof that these problems can be avoided. Take the weekends to watch your children and how food affects them. Or better yet, just feed them natural, fresh, real food and enjoy them for two days!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I heart Jamie Oliver. I really do. My kids watched his new show with me last night and we all loved it. My daughter said as she got into bed, "Tomorrow can we cook a healthy meal together?" I hope that you are watching with your kids. Not necessarily because you need to make changes, but so that your kids can appreciate the healthy food they receive at home. (And if you DO need to make some changes, that won't hurt anything either...:)

Jamie mentioned a petition that he wanted Americans to sign so he could take it to Washington to show them that parents want change in our schools. Here is the link so you can sign it! Even if my kids hadn't just started school last week, I would sign this petition for the children at school. I wonder how bad our health care system would be if we didn't have the obesity epidemic...hmmmm

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What's in YOUR Refrigerator?

My children went to public school this week for the first time ever. I have always felt that one of the benefits of keeping kids at home was feeding them nutritious foods. I knew that school lunches were dismal at best, and looking over the school menu, I may have underestimated how bad the lunches really are. But I'm not going to blame the school, the state, or even the USDA. Isn't it all of our faults?
First, I want to point out that it's ludicrous that children get free or reduced lunch at school. And children get reduced lunch at school! This simply means that instead of paying $1.70 (I think) per lunch, we pay $.40 per lunch. But like most people, if I qualify for it, I'm gonna take it. At least until my financial situation improves, my kids will be on reduced lunch and eat that junk. I know there are kids from much poorer families than my own. But I also know that those same families will be seen in the evenings right down the street from the McDonald's eating a $3.00 Happy Meal for dinner. Let's get real! We are already getting virtually free child care all day, and then we expect the government to feed our kids for free as well?! What?! Where did this line of thinking evolve? And if kids only pay $1.70 for lunch, how do we expect them to eat real food for that?! (I would bet most parents like me would be happy to pay more if it was real and healthy food.)
Second, the schools are not to blame for the epidemic of processed foods found on every lunch tray across America. The problem did not start there. The problem started in our homes. Come to think of it, the problem started with the medical community pushing low fat diets down our throats to cure heart disease, which increased carbohydrate intake and told America that as long as it was low fat, you will be fine! So we have evolved into carb-loving obese Americans who will eat anything processed over anything green. And we have fed that to our children. Shame on us!
Thank the heavens for Jamie Oliver. I don't care where he came from or how rude he might seem, what he is saying needs to be heard. It is how our doctors should treat their patients that don't want to hear the truth. Eating healthy is NOT more expensive. Eating junk is expensive up front, not to mention the cost on the back end from future doctor visits. Eating healthy is NOT difficult. Put fresh carrot sticks, celery, and cucumbers in your fridge. Even my 7 and 8 year olds can prepare these themselves...and they enjoy it! Kids will NOT refuse healthy food. My kids absolutely love fresh fruit. They have eaten salads since the age of two. My daughter's favorite food was broccoli at the age of 3. At 7 and 8, they still love these foods. And while Jamie has great recipes and cooking ideas, it is even easier than that...get a steamer and use some sea salt. Get a crock pot and dump the meat and veggies in. Bury the deep fryer in the yard! LOL
We do have Oreos and Dingdongs in our snack cabinet. I am not a food Nazi. We have treats, but we do so sparingly. We also have cereal and Pop Tarts on occasion. I am ashamed at these confessions. And yet, I know that my children eat WAY healthier than most of the kids we know. We do eat at McDonalds. My kids get to choose nuggets or cheeseburger, and I choose apple dippers and apple juice for them. I share my fries with them, and still many get thrown away. "Normal" families wouldn't consider anything but getting fries for everyone, and eating every last one! This isn't right!
This problem has gone on long enough for grown adults with their own children to have grown up with poor food choices. It's time to STOP, think about what we are doing to our children, and CHANGE before it becomes a battle in our houses. Do this while your little ones are at home, so that when or if they go to school one day, they will eat the healthy foods on their plate instead of dumping them in the trash!
P.S. Start taking a stand for the children in your community. I am coaching my daughter's U8 soccer team. We are not participating in "after game snacks" which usually consist of brightly colored high fructose corn syrup drinks with trans-fat snacks that do absolutely nothing for them. How much sense does it make for our kids to run around a field for an hour, only to be fed poison in the end?! Duh!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Kate Gosselin

The show was called "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" but I'm voting to change the title to "Kate." Because these days, it's all about her. As a matter of fact, I wasn't sure how to spell "Gosselin" so I started typing her name in my Google search toolbar. And all I had typed was "Kate" and the first choice at the top was "Kate Gosselin." Hmmmm.
As if she hadn't filled her plate enough, Kate recently committed to Dancing with the Stars. Which is funny in itself, because she isn't a STAR! If I had any respect for this woman, it is now all gone. It was bad enough watching her freakish control over her kids and her husband. It was sad enough watching her hit the road at the end, leaving her kids behind when she knew the separation was right around the corner. When her kids need her the most, off she goes.
I find it ironic that America sat and watched Jon be treated poorly in almost every episode, and as soon as they split, he is made to look like the bad guy. I've not paid a terrible amount of attention to the stories. But from what I saw, he did nothing wrong except live his life knowing that the media was going to plaster it all in their rags. Perhaps he should have lived like a hermit for a while, but the fact is, both of these parents are a bit distracted, don't you think?
Having been through a divorce, I know how this works. There is a period of shock, mourning, grieving, and recovery, where the kids tend to take a back seat for a time. You really are just trying to get from one day to the next. But that's not what we are talking about here. We are talking about a mom with EIGHT children that we ALL know need her now more than ever, and she is doing a frivolous dance show?! This is a HUGE committment. I don't care if she practices while they are at school. I don't care that if she was working full time she would be gone more hours for a longer period of time. She should be taking this time to rest and prepare so that she can manage eight children after school peacefully. We all know Kate...we all know how she freaks out over the littlest things. She's going to dance all day and then be a loving, caring mom for EIGHT kids? Right. I'm sorry, but someone needs to wake up and people need to stop making her offers. I've seen enough. And no, I won't be watching Dancing with the Stars...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Change of Heart

I can't believe how long it's been since I've blogged! A lot has changed during the past few months. Of course my children seem to have grown much more than they should have. They are constantly eating and I'm starting to worry...LOL.
But something bigger has changed that was pretty unexpected. When I embarked on homeschooling my children four years ago, it was with the notion that God would tell me if they were supposed to be in school. While many parents believe God will tell them if they should homeschool their children, I felt the opposite. I waited for God to tell me if/when they should leave the home, because I believe the best place for children to learn is with a parent. One day not long ago, God told me it was time. I can't even explain this, because I have always been a die hard home educator and advocate for home school. But God spoke, and literally changed my heart overnight.
I still believe that the home is the best school for children, and I've always said that unless a parent is on drugs, sick, or abusive, the children should learn at home. I've provided an excellent foundation for my children and feel strongly that they can learn anything that is put in front of them. But what have I sacrificed in the process? I have been doing this as a single parent for two and a half years, as I've worked on my business from home as well. And honestly, I'm tired. I'm so worn out, and not necessarily physically, but mentally. I am in great physical shape, but mentally... not so much. I am parent, teacher, disciplinarian, nurse, chauffeur, mediator, negotiator, and activity chairman...24 hours a day. God knows what I can handle and he simply said, "Enough."
So next fall, my kids will be entering public school. Of course it's within walking distance from our house, and I'm not planning on shoving them off to have my own life. I will be active in school activities and may even substitute teach a little. But when they come home from school, we will be able to have quality time together without me being frustrated, frazzled, or emotionally and mentally drained. Oddly enough, I feel it will improve our relationships.
If you have made a transition from home school to public school, please offer any advice you have. I'll take it!