Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

Wordless Wednesday: Learning to Tie Our Shoes

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Any tips or tricks you can share on this important milestone?

My Best Friend Left Today

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

I was doing good. So much better than last year. We walked down to the bus stop and he looked up at me with his big brown eyes. “Mama, I am going to miss you so much!” He squeezed my hand and leaned into me.

I cried all the way back, tears dripping in my coffee.

This does not get easier.

Ideas for Making Lunch Fun & Healthy

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

My son will be attending school all day now and this means that he will be eating lunch at school. I have been gathering supplies and ideas over this last month on ways to make his lunch fun and healthy and wanted to share with you some of the information I gathered.

One idea that I am excited to start with him is adding Knock-Knock jokes each day to his lunch. My girlfriend told me about someone doing this at her school and I thought it was such a cute idea to do with my children. I used our free lunchbox notes printable and found this website for ideas on knock-knock jokes to write to him.

I stocked up on small plastic containers that I plan to fill with batches of boxed pudding, applesauce, trail mixes, or raisins to cut down on the cost of the individual serving cups. We also bought stainless steel water bottles that can be filled with juice instead of the juice boxes. Sundays will be spent filling mini-containers and bagging up veggies for the week so that the mornings will be easier on everyone.

He used to eat lunch at preschool each week and the only thing he would ever eat was peanut butter sandwiches. To save on time, I would make five peanut butter sandwiches, put them in baggies, and then I would put them the freezer for the week. In the mornings, I would pull one out and it would be thawed by the time lunchtime rolled around. It was a time-saving strategy that worked really well for us. Unfortunately, he has moved on from peanut butter jelly so I can no longer implement that!

Last month I was hired by Sara Lee to act as a consultant for the company to help them plan a nutritional summit to share with moms ideas for creating a healthy and nutritious school lunch. It was such a unique opportunity for me to help in the planning stages of a blogger event and it is one that I hope I can repeat again with future companies.

Their emphasis was on creating balanced lunches and educating consumers in the bread aisle. I have to say that I have already added many of the ideas that were shared as well as implementing many of the shopping tips and I wanted to share with you some of the best information I got at this summit.

  • Instead of juice, which can add a lot of calories to a child’s diet, try making fruit-flavored waters. I loved this idea for infusing water with mint, strawberries, or oranges for a fun way to make inexpensive flavored water.
  • Get your children to eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables by hanging a rainbow on the refrigerator. As they eat from each color, they can add a star to it. This helps them see what colors they need to eat and what colors they are doing really well on.
  • Trail mixes are a healthy and satisfying snack in lunches or before/after athletic events. An easy formula to remember for making trail mix is 1/2 cup of dried fruit, 1/4 cup of nuts, and 1/8 cup of chocolate.
  • One of the easiest ways to incorporate whole grain into your child’s diets is to to pack a fun whole grain snack like popcorn!
  • When examining nutritional labels on bread, make sure that the first ingredient listed is, “whole wheat flour.” If the first ingredient listed is, “enriched flour,” look and see whether whole wheat flour is listed and where it is listed on the ingredient list.

If you have any nutritional questions or if you are needing guidance on packing a school lunch, you can contact Sara Lee through their Facebook page. They have added all of the great recipes that they shared with us while we visited the facility and they have Chef Jill checking the site and sharing ideas daily so it is definitely a page worth peeking at.

I think that the main message that I walked away with, is to do the best you can with nutrition, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it perfectly. Lunch is supposed to be fun and not a chore. Educate yourself about nutritional labels, do your best sharing fruits and vegetables in their lunch, try to incorporate whole grains into your child’s diet, and pat yourself on the back for trying… and don’t forget that cookie cutters, knock-knock jokes, or a sweet little note can be a fun way to make lunchtime fun for your children.

(Full Blogger Disclosure- This was an all-expenses paid trip to their Chicago headquarters which included air travel, a one-night hotel stay, and a gift bag. All thoughts and opinions on this trip are my own.)

What are some of your favorite ideas for making lunches fun & healthy? This is our first year packing lunches and I would love your ideas!

A Beautiful Day for Berry Picking

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart. ~Celia Thaxter

Blueberry picking was a huge success for our family. I can’t recall ever picking blueberries before and I think we all marveled at how beautiful these berries were and the amazing abundance of them on each bush.

We headed to the Organic Blueberry Ranch in Mishawaka, Indiana. It is one of the largest in the Midwest, but their latest claim to fame is that they only sell certified organic berries. What a treasure this is to our community and it is only fifteen minutes from our house!

If you want a sweet little adventure with your children, make sure to take advantage of all of the berry picking. I was fortunate to have one child who doesn’t like berries, who could assist me with filling our pail, and one child who just sat down and consumed berries the entire time. In my opinion, that makes for a perfect team!

We only filled a small pail, but it was enough to have a little fun in the kitchen with and eat by the handfuls. I hope to return again before the season is over so that we can create a few more dishes with this summer treat!

I hope you are enjoying some of these sweet and simple summer pleasures too.

Images From Our Summer List

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Making Our Summer List

had a pizza and a movie night

made milkshakes

went to soccer camp for a week

ran through the sprinklers (and lounged by them too)

went to the (stinky) zoo

planted our garden

had a campfire night with marshmallows

Also accomplished: went to the movies * ice cream sundae night * attended VBS * went to the library * sleepover at Grandma & Grandpa’s * made homemade slushies

I realize that many of you have just recently got out of school, but we have been out since May so our summer will be coming to a close in August. We are trucking through our list and looking forward to lots more fun stuff this summer.

I hope you are having a fantastic summer too and spending lots of quality time with your sweet children! I am hoping the sun will be shining more here so we can do more water activities. In the meantime, we are having a blast and enjoying these precious moments together. I am trying to store each of these moments in my heart and treasuring these lazy summer days as much as I can for I know they end way too soon! Happy summer!

In June, as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them. ~Aldo Leopold

New Family Tradition: Campfire Night

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

I decided to start a new family tradition in celebration of our son’s last day of school… a campfire family night. What better way could you end your school year than a fun night of being together over toasted foods!

We have had this fire pit for years, but have not attempted any cooking on it until now. Sitting by this little fire pit is one of my favorite things about the summer though and it gets a lot of use in the evenings at our house!

I had been holding onto a gift card for Target from one of their prescription gift card deals. This gave us the money to put towards our supplies for our fun night together.

We did not have any roasting forks, but found them in the camping supplies at Walmart along with a log that would burn for three hours. If you have these things though, no investment is needed other than food!

This family night, of course, requires a lot of supervision. The kids had a wonderful time though roasting their hot dogs over the fire. Some of our hot dogs were toastier than others, but the kids thought it still tasted great.

No meal on the campfire would be complete though without the s’mores. They couldn’t wait to get through the first portion of the meal so that we could snack on these. Perfectly toasted marshmallows sandwiched between graham crackers & chocolate, made for the best gooey snack ever.

It was such a fantastic night for all of us and a fun night off of cooking for me. We have decided to make this a yearly tradition because it was such a wonderful way to start our summer together.

Do you have any end-of-school traditions with your children? I would love hear what you do to celebrate this kick-off to summer!

Graduation Day

Monday, May 25th, 2009


We are so proud of you, Ethan! You did it! You graduated kindergarten with flying colors and wowed us all this year. I can’t believe you are reading, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and doing it all with that boundless energy that we so admire!

I was sad to see you on that big yellow school bus on your first day of school. I clung to the side of the bus as you assured me that it was all going to be okay. You were so right. You did great and I could not be more proud.

This is just the beginning, son! You are going to do so many great things, meet so many great people, and touch people’s lives in great ways. God has a purpose for you and I can’t wait to see that all unfold.


Play It Again, Momma: Lots of Chores for the Clark Kids

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Chores are an important task in the Clark household and one of the benefits about our children getting older is that they can pitch in more. Since most chores seem to fall in the lap of mommy, I am thrilled that chores haven’t lost their novelty yet and that my son loves to help mommy get things done around here.

Do I know that the novelty will wear off soon? Of course! I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Here are some reasons why chores are important in my house:

- I am grooming my child to someday be a self-sufficient adult. I don’t want my kid going to college and not knowing how to make himself/herself a sandwich, do a load of laundry, or have to be dependent on the people around them.

- I want my kids to know that we are a family unit and in a family unit, it is important for everyone to pitch in. Occasionally, I will hear my son say that he is “bored” with chores or “too tired” to help me out. That is tough luck in this house because everyone has to put forth an effort so that we can ALL enjoy having a clean and organized home.

- Chores are a great teaching opportunity. Sorting clothing by colors teaches your child to group colors together, folding clothing helps them build fine-motor skills, working at a fast pace (setting a timer for completing certain tasks) can be a fun way to exercise.

- I want my son to be a catch someday. Yeah, I am looking waaaaayyyy down the road, but that is sometimes in the back of my mind. What girl would not want to marry someone who knew how to wash his own laundry, could whip up a lovely dinner for her, or who picked up after himself? Those are attributes that would have been on my list when choosing a mate and I want my son to have those kind of attributes too…not only for himself, but for whoever he might end up with someday.

Here are what chores we do in our house:

- My son ( 5 yr old) has to get himself dressed in the morning, put his pajamas in his hamper, and make his bed before coming downstairs.

- He helps me prepare the evening meal and helps set the table for our dinner.

- Emily (2 yr old) & Ethan both have to help pick up their toys before they go to bed in the evening. We put on fast and crazy dance music, set the timer for ten minutes, and the whole family pitches in to pick up the playroom.

- On house cleaning day, Ethan is responsible for picking up his room for me to vacuum and dust it and he has to make sure the playroom is in order. We typically clean while my daughter lays down for her nap so this is a solo operation. I have moved my cleaning day to coincide with our Friday night family night. Basically, it is total bribery and we have to get the playroom picked up so that they can have a pizza and a movie with mommy and daddy. It works out really well.

- Ethan sorts our laundry. I line the hampers up and the baskets and he sorts the laundry for me. He also helps fold the laundry when I wash it.

Here is what I had to overcome in order for this to work in our house:

- Teaching chores is a tedious process, but it is worth the time and effort spent. It took him awhile to get the hang of sorting the loads so we would start with a “question” pile which saved us all time. If he didn’t know where something went, he would put that in a separate pile and we would talk about each item as we threw it in the correct basket.

- Things will not be done perfectly and I needed to get over that. When my son helps fold the laundry, it is not going to look like I folded the laundry, or like when I set the table, or have all the toys exactly where I would have put them. This is when you take your “mommy dearest” issues down a notch and enjoy being a mom and having someone to help you.

- I try to use our chore opportunities, not as a time to direct, but to talk with my kids. As we work on putting dinner together and setting the table, we talk about our day at school. It isn’t always this way, but I try to reserve this special time with them.

What chores do your children do and what are their ages?

Happy Earth Day

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Happy Earth Day, everyone! I hope that you can do something fun and green with your children today. Not sure what to do? Perhaps, a little Earth Day reflecting might be a fun activity for celebrating all that this earth means to us.

I wanted to share with you some of our pictures from our family night activity celebrating Earth Hour on March 28th. The Earth Hour was officially after the kids went to bed so we celebrated our Earth Hour an hour earlier so that they could participate in all of the fun before their normal bed time.

I got out their sleeping bags and made a little camp out area in our living room. We played with my favorite little vintage domino set, they sang songs, they got lots of fun roughhousing in with daddy and tickles from mommy, and we finished the hour with a special little snack by candlelight.

My favorite moment was when Emily began making her own lyrics up to songs and began singing, “I can’t see where I’m going, I can’t see where I’m going.” as she & her brother marched and sang in the dark.

These are those little moments that I will always treasure in my heart!

Ideas for Celebrating Earth Day With Kids:

Celebrating Earth Day

Family Night: Earth Hour

Craft Green: Eco-Friendly Tutorials (@ the long thread)

Earth Day Crafts & Activities (@ Kaboose)

Earth Day Coloring Pages & Printables (@ DLTK’s)

How will you be spending Earth Day with your family?

Writing Love Notes To Your Child

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Ethan is doing really well with his reading in school and I am so pleased to see the delight in his face as he sounds out the words and puts sentences together. Is there anything more exciting than the newness of discovering how cool reading is?

He was sent home a worksheet of words that we needed to work on as a family with him. They are words that he needs to know and be able to read by the end of the school year. I was sitting down with him and pointing to words and he would say them. We did this for a couple of days and he looked up at me and told me, “Mom, this is so boring!” You know what? He was right! I was bored too and the task seemed like a chore.

The next day that he came home, I told him that I wrote him a note just for him. In it, were words from the list that he needed to recognize. He came back downstairs and told me “Mom, I don’t know those words.” I gave him a pat on the back and told him, “Just read my note and you can sound it out while you eat lunch.”

I went down to fold a load of laundry and he came running down the stairs, grinning from ear to ear. “Mom, I know what it says!” He then recited my note word for word.

We have made a pact to do this each day and I will write him a new note just for him.

As teachers, we sometimes have to be more creative than pointing and reciting. It has now become our fun little game that I hope he will remember for years to come!

Do you have any fun ways you have taught your children about reading or writing?

Related Links:

Making Our Grocery Lists

We Need to Work On Our Letters

Cheap Dry Erase Board