Our Simple Strategy to Keep Kids Balanced

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Ever since the last time change, our morning routine has been a little off. For the most part, it was because the kids were falling asleep late and waking up late, so we barely had time for breakfast before Junior’s appointments in the mornings. So granola bars and fruit leathers were quick and easy on-the-go “meals”.

Unfortunately, I noticed that Tater was beginning to have attitude issues…things like getting easily frustrated, melting down at the slightest little inconveniences, and crying because she couldn’t focus during school. Tater has always been a strong-willed child, but this was something different. I chalked it up to her being tired, then to too much screen time, then to being nervous about a couple of dentist appointments, and finally I planned on scheduling an appointment with Junior’s OT to discuss possible behavioral issues.

But, before I scheduled anything, I decided to run a little experiment.

Within 3 days, there was a huge improvement in her attitude. It’s been a complete 180! She’s calmer, more focused, and overall more balanced.

What did I do?

First, let’s start with me. My husband insists I eat three square meals every day, and my own mother refuses to answer the phone until I’ve eaten something in the morning. When I get low blood sugar, I get reaallllyyyy crabby. Tater eats healthy, but her snacks are usually just fruit…which has a lot of sugar (albeit natural sugar) but no protein to balance it. So, I decided to add in protein to all her meals and snacks to see if that would help keep her moods balanced.

She doesn’t like eggs in their plain, eggy form (in recipes is okay), and milk/cheese upset her tummy (but yogurt is fine), so I’ve had to come up with good protein sources for breakfast and snacks. (Lunch and dinner are easy…there are usually meat or beans involved.)

Here are some of the breakfasts I’ve been making:

Snacks were very challenging…like I said before, she has always just requested fruit or maybe a little granola bar. So, I had to completely rethink snacks, especially because a hard boiled egg or cheese stick wouldn’t work. Here are some of Tater’s favorite snacks:

  • Apple slices and Peanut Butter
  • Celery sticks and Peanut Butter
  • Hummus and Pita Chips
  • Quick, Easy, No Bake Energy Bites
  • Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Bark (this is a wonderful dessert for Tater. The dark chocolate doesn’t cause a sugar crash, and the pumpkin seeds add protein)
  • Air Popped Popcorn (each serving contains 4 g protein)
  • Trail Mix
  • Organic Soft Pretzel Bites (these are frozen and I found them at Costco. Each serving has 4 g protein)

It’s amazing how much our diet affects everything. I’m so glad that Tater’s behavior and attitude has been helped by such a simple fix, but I do need to keep on top of it. If she doesn’t have at least a little protein every 2 hours or so, it starts to show, and I have to make sure she doesn’t get any artificial colorings in her food, as she’s severely affected by them almost immediately. But, since I’ve started this, I’ve noticed SUCH a difference. Instead of crying because her Junior took a toy, she’ll calmly ask for it back. When I tell her it’s time to do school, she goes to the school room instead of yelling at me that she can’t focus. I guess food and mood do go hand-in-hand!

Do your children have food sensitivities? How does it affect them? Tell me in the comments!

Book Review: The Love Letters

Beverly Lewis is probably the most well-known, respected Christian author of Amish fiction there is, and after reading The River last year, I was excited to receive a copy of her newest novel, The Love Letters.

It’s the Summer of 1966, and Marlena Wenger, a young woman of the Old Order Amish community in Pennsylvania, is spending the summer with her Mennonite grandmother. Marlena provides for her lonely grandmother by helping in the garden and around the house, and offering companionship to her recently widowed Mammi.

Shortly after arriving at her grandmother’s home several hours away from her own community, Marlena receives devastating news: her English (no longer Amish) sister Luella has been in a terrible car accident. Luella’s husband is in the military, stationed in Vietnam, and Marlena is asked to care for the couple’s infant daughter until the paternal grandparents can return from a foreign vacation and take the baby until Luella recovers.

Marlena and Mammi Janice happily take in little Angela Rose, and Marlena quickly bonds with the baby. While dealing with her grief, Marlena receives a letter from her Old Order beau back home that she must find someone else to take Angela Rose if she wants to continue their relationship.

With her future in doubt, Marlena must choose between her two loves.

Meanwhile, there is a second story weaving through within the pages of The Love Letters. The Old Order neighbors of Marlena’s grandmother, the Bitners, are having family challenges of their own. Fourteen-year-old Jake, known to his friends and family as Small Jay, is lame, small, and mentally delayed, but still wants to be a valued member of his home. However, his father Roman has never accepted Small Jay’s challenges, and chooses to ignore him rather than embrace him.

When Small Jay happens along an confused older homeless man at a local abandoned mill, the road to healing starts for everyone. Small Jay’s new friend, apparently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, doesn’t remember anything about his previous life, but he has a stack of love letters that may lead him home.

Can Small Jay help his lost friend get home and win his father’s acceptance in the process?

I thought The Love Letters was going to be just about Marlena, but was pleasantly surprised to find the story of the Bitners equally covered in the pages. I really enjoyed this book, and for such difficult subjects to be covered (a car accident, Alzheimers, death of a grandparent, etc), it was very light and heartwarming. I look forward to the next Beverly Lewis novel, since I always learn so much about Amish culture and history. (Who knew that there were so many differences between the Old Order, New Order, and Mennonites?) Her characters are always likeable and I enjoy getting to know them.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Our Homeschool Week in Review-April 8-12, 2015

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Junior pointing to Downtown San Diego on Easter

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I love seeing what other people do on a day-to-day basis in their homeschooling, so I thought it would be fun to start a new series about what we’ve been doing. I’ll share the assignments, projects, and some photos about what we accomplished the previous week. If you want to check out our curriculum choices, you can look at them here.

Tater is finishing up 1st grade, although we have started some 2nd grade work. Here’s what we did last week:

Bible: We studied King David. We used the Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, King David (Get to Know series), and The Bible for Children.

We also watched What’s in the Bible episode 5, and built slings out of popsicle sticks and fabric, and used the sling and marshmallows to act out David and Goliath. Obviously I was Goliath, and Tater enjoyed eating the “rocks” afterwards.

History: I stopped using Mystery of History a couple months ago because Tater just wasn’t retaining as much as I was hoping. It is a wonderful curriculum, but being 6 years old, she prefers more pictures and the reading in MOH is geared to just a little bit of an older group. Instead, I created my own history curriculum (I have a History degree and totally thrive on this stuff). Maintaining Ancient History until the Fall, we studied the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World last week.

I printed out photos of what each wonder was supposed to look like as well as some info about each one, and we made up a song about them.

We built the Lighthouse of Alexandria out of Legos, and created Zeus’s scepter out of an empty paper towel roll, a printed eagle, and some aluminum foil.
Math: We are almost finished with Horizons 1 (there are 160 lessons). This week Tater did lessons 149-152, and took a test. We did daily addition and subtractions drills outside. One day we did a scavenger hunt using math problems, another day I hid the problems in plastic Easter eggs and hid them. She had to find each egg and solve the problems. I also did drills outside using sidewalk chalk.

Math Drills in Easter Eggs
Math Drills in Easter Eggs

Reading and Spelling: Our read aloud right now is Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third (or fifth, depending on your edition) book in the Chronicles of Narnia Series. We are about 2/3 of the way through it. While I’m reading, Tater plays with math manipulatives such as pattern blocks or geometric blocks, or Legos.

We are also finishing up a Reading Comprehension workbook. Tater also completed three Abeka 2 Phonics worksheets. We didn’t get to any spelling last week, but are on Level 2, Step 14 in All About Spelling.

Tater reads by herself every evening, and lately she has been reading The Boxcar Children series.
Language Arts/Vocabulary: We’ve been using First Language Lessons 2, and so far really like it. We did 3 lessons last week. I’ve also been using a Greek/Latin root words book to teach Tater roots, and we learned “-ject” for “throw”. We made up our own words using “ject”, and we also reviewed the previous four weeks of root words.

Science: We’ve been going back and forth between Science Experiments, interest based learning, and A Reason for Science. Last week Tater wanted to learn about Mars, so we read a lot of books about Mars, painted red “Mars rocks” using rocks from the backyard and watched several episodes of Space Racers.

Art: Since we were studying David for Bible, we made David the focus of art this week. I found paintings of David from classic paintings from Rubens, Chagall, and Bray, and also used Michelangelo’s sculpture. We did picture studies using the art and learned more about the styles of each artist and also looked at how the art compared to the Biblical stories.

Tater also painted her own picture of King David.
For PE, she had t-ball practice, a t-ball game, and rode her bike daily. She also accompanied us to Junior’s occupational therapy, and played on some of the swings and equipment there.

 

What did your homeschool look like this week? Share any links or ideas in the comments!

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San Diego Kids Expo & Fair…GIVEAWAY!

KIDS fESTI’m always looking for fun, educational, and inexpensive weekend family activities. Even with Tater’s sports games on Saturdays, we still try to scout out at least one fun family destination every weekend. Sometimes it’s the Farmer’s Market, or Zoo (we have passes), or the beach. The annual San Diego Kids Expo and Fair is coming up April 25-26 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and it’s already on my calendar! I’m really excited to be attending this year, and I have a Family Pack of tickets to give away to one of my local readers!

The San Diego Kids Expo and Fair is an annual family favorite event that features games, music, displays and exhibits, catered to all things kids! Read more details about all the offerings here.

Balloon Pool
Balloon Pool at the SD Kids Expo

The San Diego Kids Expo and Fair includes fun for all ages. From babies to adults, there are plenty of activities, exhibits, and hands-on fun for everyone. This year the SD Kids Expo has created a new venue called Playland, designed specifically for kids aged 2-10 and includes mini laser tag, carnival games, and bubble suits. For only $5 per child, they will have unlimited access to Playland. But, you don’t have to spend extra money to have fun. Between the arts and crafts booths, live music, and toy exhibits, it will be an exciting and full day!

Tater is most excited to participate in the Home Depot Workshop building clinics, and she has asked to “pleeeeasssse” go on the 200 foot long zip line. Junior will have a blast listening to the live music (we are so grateful for his cochlear implants!) and visiting the Tumble Gym bus. I’ll enjoy the cooking demos and kid friendly exhibits, and my husband will just enjoy the fun weekend together as a family. Well, and maybe some laser tag too :)

The event runs Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26 from 10am-5pm at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Adult tickets are $8, and children under 12 are free. One winner, selected randomly, will win 2 adult tickets to the San Diego Kids Expo and Fair (and unlimited children under 12). [$16 value]

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NEW Educents Marketplace

Introducing the NEW Educents Marketplace

I just received an email from the founders of Educents, Kate and Kaitlyn, with some really exciting news. Until today, Educents was a website for parents and educators to take advantage of daily deals. But those deals expired… And there were only 50 deals available at once… I wanted saving money to be even EASIER. Kate and Kaitlyn agreed. So they created the new Educents Marketplace. It’s even easier to discover affordable educational resources that make learning FUN!

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Thousands of new products – Educents Sellers can now offer ALL of their bestsellers on the new Educents Marketplace. There’s a wide variety of worksheets, lesson plans, educational apps and toys. Shop The Young Scientists Club, Scholastic, Workman Publishing, Alpha Omega Publishing, Life of Fred books, hundreds of printable units created by educators, and more!

Offers that NEVER expire – Sellers can offer our favorite educational products year-round. Once a deeply discounted Daily Deal expires, you can still find that product available on Educents at the lowest price.

Discovery – It’s easier to search on Educents. Search for your kiddos’ interests like Minecraft or Frozen-inspired resources, and then sort by grade level, subject, brand, and more!

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Follow your favorite brands and Sellers – The “Follow Me” feature lets me add my favorite Sellers to a list. Click the heart on the Seller Storefront. You can also see which Sellers are the most popular with other shoppers!

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The Educents Marketplace is exactly what I want it to be — the best place for parents and educators to find the resources I NEED at an affordable price.

*This post was sponsored by Educents, but I really think they’re an awesome resource for all things education!