The Homeschool Snack Bar

homeschool_snack_barIf doesn’t matter that we just ate breakfast five minutes ago. Nor does it seem to disturb them we are in the middle of a science lesson – which I am teaching. My kids are hungry yet again. They are growing and constantly needing to eat. What’s a homeschool mom to do?

As I’m sure many of you have experienced, trying to school hungry kids is impossible. They won’t focus; they become irritable; and they complain. Nothing will be accomplished if their needs aren’t met. We could stop everything and eat. Or, mom could set up a homeschool snack bar! Complete with their favorite snacks, our kiddos are free to munch while we are able to continue on with our learning day.

Our Family Snack Bar

yogurt
frozen yogurt
granola
fresh fruit
popcorn
Chex mix
graham crackers
chips and salsa
quesadillas
tea sandwiches
cold cuts & cheese
olives
banana bread
chocolate chips
cookies
gummy worms

Had you fooled didn’t I? Those first items look incredibly healthy and I was doing so well. While I’d love to think everything going into my kids’ bodies is good for them, it’s not. On occasion, mama breaks down and snags a bag of her favorite, sugary snack. Seriously, who can resist an Oreo cookie?

Generally speaking, I do keep the sugar to a minimum. Our ‘snack bar’ is meant to keep them energized and focused for learning and creativity. Sugar highs are generally avoided. Nor are all of these items available everyday, all day. An assortment is placed at our learning station midway through our morning for anyone who needs a treat. I also find I lean towards particular snacks which seem to coincide with the season. Banana bread is considerably more comforting in the fall/winter.

By having a working snack bar for our littles, complaints of hunger are kept to a minimum and I am not scrambling to meet their need while in the midst of a history reading. They are satisfied and I am less frustrated. A delicious idea all around.

“My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.”
~ Proverbs 24:13

📢 Chime In!: Budget not withstanding, what would your preferred snack be for learning time? (My girls would love for sushi to be a regular on the table. If only!)

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A Lesson From the Pros

It was free and it was local; this had to mean it was a good thing, right? Well, as it turns out, it was a good thing and we enjoyed every minute!

Our local Williams-Sonoma is currently offering free cooking classes for kids. It seems they started this at the end of 2013, but I am a little behind on the times. So, a few weeks ago, I took a few minutes out of our day to sign us up for the month of May. One month of trial-and-error couldn’t hurt, could it?

Each cooking class is held on a Saturday morning and there are two session times available. We chose to take the later session, as the idea of getting up early on the weekends just doesn’t appeal to any of us.

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We showed up to our first class bright and early, by about a half an hour, just to get our bearings and to ensure a good spot. This gave us a few minutes to peruse the store and spend a few moments talking with the instructor.

Our first class was on fudge! It lasted about a half an hour and all of the kids present were able to participate on some level. The batch the kids made were supposed to be for their mothers, but our instructor also made sure to have a sample ready for all of the kiddos to test out.

So far, the kids are really enjoying this class. My girls tend to be the oldest in the bunch, but that’s okay; we were here for the lessons more than the socialization. Next week, we are going to learn how to make waffles from scratch (well, my kids are going to review this) and to make various toppings which complement our creations. This will also be the best time to sign up for all of June’s classes as well. If we don’t sign up early, we won’t get a spot!

If you happen to have a Williams-Sonoma near you, I highly recommend signing up for a class or two. Besides the fun opportunities to explore in the kitchen, we parents get 10% off anything we decide to buy while our kids are learning. (I’m sure this is part of their Cooking Class #1marketing strategy, but, hey, it works for me!)

While I don’t plan to make this a weekly practice, I did find a steal this week… Star Wars pancake molds (three of them) for only $7. (Remember my impulse buy strategy? This was under $20!) I am currently debating whether or not I want to save up for a few of their gorgeous bundt pans; the Stained Glass one is particularly spectacular. I just wonder how often I would actually use them. Would they be worth the price?

Time to chime in… Have you ever taken a cooking class through a local store; what was your experience like? Also, do you have any specialized bundt pans; how often do you use them?

Keepers #8 (2013-2014)

Well, we are back in action. I confess, I was very nervous the night before. Did I have everything; was I ready; were the girls going to show? As usual, I needn’t have worried about a thing; God had it all under control.

To start off the second half of the year, we wanted to review healthy eating. After the holidays, it can be very hard to put a halt to our sugar intake and refuel our bodies with things more healthy to digest. This was the perfect time to go over the food pyramid, proper portioning, and learn a few new recipes.

Keepers #8 (1-5)

Eating fruit salad, sweetened with honey and freshly squeezed blood oranges.

Keepers #8 (2-5)

Making our own ranch dressing with buttermilk.

Keepers #8 (3-5)

The girls were anxious to mix their own dressing….

Keepers #8 (4-5)

…and give it a try! Eating our salad was yummy.

Keepers #8 (5-5)

Adding buttermilk to our dressing.

Our recipe for salad dressing came from THIS awesome website. I made the ‘bulk’ spice mixture at home and prepped our salad, but in group the girls made their own dressing. We used condiment bottles easily found at any Wal-Mart or Target to shake up and serve our dressing; this made things nice and easy on the girls. They were free to take their bottles home so they could use them in the future on other cooking projects or to recreate the dressing on their own time.

After exploring the world of homemade dressing, we spent a little time talking about fruit salad and enjoying a sample. We talked about the importance of not using sugars in the fruit, but instead supplementing with local honey and freshly squeezed oranges. We also spent a little time talking about the benefits of vitamin C, not only bodily, but in the presentation of the fruit itself (it keeps apples from browning).

Interestingly, after all that food, we still had snack! This brought up an interesting dilemma. It appears one of our girls switched over to a gluten-free/lactose free diet unbeknownst to us! I didn’t know what to do. Luckily one of the little girls who provided snack brought oranges.

However, now I am going to have to come up with a game plan for future meetings. Perhaps I should bring a plate of gluten-free chocolate chip to each meeting, just in case? I don’t want all of our families to worry about this, so I think it should be on me. I suppose I could ask the little girl’s mom to bring a personal snack, but that doesn’t feel right. Hmmm… this might take some thought.

What is your favorite, healthy snack?

Another Recipe

“My mother listened sympathetically to my dreams of a career and then taught me another recipe.” – Gene Tierney, Laura

I don’t have a favorite anything. (Okay; I have a favorite guy, but that’s about it) However, if I had to pick a favorite movie it just might be Laura. It is a classic Noir film with some of the greatest actors of their day. One of my favorite lines from Laura really has nothing to do with the plot points, but I find it thought-provoking just the same.

Dana Andrews is standing in Gene Tierney’s kitchen, there under the guise of investigating a murder. He asks her to brew some coffee and he’ll make the breakfast (seeing as she is a career girl and he assumes she won’t know how to cook.) Gene Tierney (Laura) calmly replies that he can make the coffee and she’ll make breakfast.

It seems that while Laura always dreamed of being a powerful career woman, Laura’s mother had her own ideas of accomplishment.

Another RecipeThis one statement in the movie always seems to give me pause. There is a lot to be learned from this little scene.

What caught my ear right off the bat, was that her mother listened. Her mother didn’t ignore her, she didn’t prevent Laura from sharing her dreams, nor did she talk over her. When her mother listened, she didn’t attempt to talk Laura out of her goals and explain why they might be silly; she was sympathetic and caring.

Secondly, while her mother was sympathetic, she was also realistic. Hey, a girl’s got to eat!   It didn’t seem to matter where Laura envisioned herself years from childhood, mom always knew food was going to be important. (Smart woman.)

Why bother writing a post on this, you ask? Because I think there are life lessons for me to learn.

When my children come to me with their dreams of the future, how do I listen? Am I being sympathetic; am I even listening? When they talk, am I waiting for an opportunity to explain “reality” to them or am I truly giving them my attention?

While some of their goals might seem out of reach (and extremely far-fetched), they will learn those lessons on their own. Dreams are exactly that… dreams. When my children come to me with their hopes and desires, I would like to think I too would be sympathetic and open to listening. Knowing they can openly communicate further develops our relationship.

I also want to make sure that, while my children have these grand objectives, they are being taught the fundamentals of life. They might wish to be a major movie star or the next famous astronaut, but they still need to know how to pay their own bills and cook their own food.

One thing that ought to be noted about this scene in the movie, is that Dana Andrews’ character also knew the fundamentals! A man who can cook! Who knew? (laughing) While I firmly believe in gender roles, I think there are some skills both males and females benefit in knowing.

My daughters might be the primary chefs in their future homes, but it doesn’t hurt for my son to know a thing or two (or more). After all, who knows what a blessing that will be to his future wife? When I got married I knew nothing… my guy did all the work for the first year and then I learned from his mom when having our first-born.

I want my children to know the fundamentals no matter their gender. My girls will know how to pay their bills and manage a budget. The boy will know how to clean his room and cook some meals.

Every time I see this movie (and I see it a lot), it reminds of my own little family. I am encouraged to listen with a caring heart to my children’s dreams and to remain faithful in teaching fundamental skills. Who knows where the future will lead them and how those two little ideas will shape their lives?

Now… off to the kitchen to teach another recipe!

Destination: Denmark

Our virtual field trip this week was to the charming world of Denmark. Here we were reminded of all the fascinating aspects of history which surround this remarkable little country.

After viewing a little of Denmark’s natural landscape, the kids and I decided to refresh our knowledge of literature, with a side trip into the world of Hans Christian Anderson.

Little Mermaid CraftWe created a fun craft based on The Little Mermaid and talked about our favorite stories. (I wanted to make sure we especially covered the moral tones in each of his pieces and not the “Disneyfied” versions.)

Finally, it was off to the kitchen for some fun! Today’s cooking lesson was shortbread! Yummy! This is one of my husband’s personal favorites.

Shortbread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. almond extract

Directions:

  • Cut sugar, butter, salt, and extract with a pastry blender (or two knives); pat into two nine-inch round cake pans. Prick the surface with a fork before baking to a golden brown at 325 degrees. Cut into serving slices while warm and dust with confectioners sugar. Shortbread

While the cookies were baking, we trekked out back to paint some trellis for our rose garden. We spent some time talking about the villages of Denmark and their architectural designs. We reminisced about our time in Solvang and the use of trellis and roses we saw.

After a hard day’s work, there is nothing quite like a warm slice of shortbread and some cold milk.

To finish off our “trip”, we made sure to take a snap-shot of our adventures and add a stamp to our passports. With our souvenirs safely stowed away, we packed our suitcases and headed out for some local fun.

Now, let’s see where next week will take us….

Off all Hans Christian Anderson’s works; which is your favorite?

Gone Fishin’

For the last several weeks, our son has been asking us to take him fishing. We aren’t quite sure what prompted the interest, but as it seemed a reasonable request, we made sure to take note and make it happen.

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day in our neck of the woods. With temps in the mid-70’s and clear, blue skies; it was the perfect day for grabbing a pole and cooking up some fish.

Boy’o is still too little to patiently fish for a great length of time, so we thought we would start small and take him to a local trout pond.

Gone Fishin' #1 Gone Fishin' #2 Gone Fishin' #3 Gone Fishin' #4 Gone Fishin' #5 Gone Fishin' #6The man had the time of his life and was so proud of the fish he caught. According to him, he is going to eat two all by himself (we caught three, with sister’s help)!

When Yayo asked when he wanted to go fishing again, my son promptly replied, “Tuesday!”

Ministering With Meals

Dinner TimeThis evening, the family and I have the privilege of serving dinner to another family in our homeschool PSP. It seems the mom needed to go in for surgery and is incapacitated for a few weeks. Desiring to lend a helping hand, each family in the PSP has volunteered to serve dinner to help them through.

Tonight is our night and we are excited to be helping out! We are blessed to have the opportunity to give back to our friends and to show how much they are appreciated.

I can’t help but think that this is a wonderful example for our children. The idea of looking out for other people’s needs and lending a hand.

I remember when I had each of our children and the ladies brought dinner. I don’t think I had to cook for over three weeks! These ladies blessed my family so mightily, I was blown away.

I want to make sure that someone else knows what that is like….

Does your homeschooling community help in times of need? How so?