Am I teaching my kids to be emotional eaters?

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So who doesn’t like a treat? I mean I LOVE ice cream so much that for our wedding the grooms cake was an ice cream cake and really meant for me! But back to the topic at hand. I am not above bribery for my kids! Hannah had to get cavities filled and that can be scary so I told her if she did well she could have a chocolate shake. If we are at church they get hot chocolate. If they sing in choir at another church there are donuts. They get treats at homeschool events. We are doing a day camp at church this week and there will be treats every day. Now of course I have no issues with my kids having a treat but it seems like they are around every corner. Please let me know if you don’t feel the same way. I love to hear the other side.

So we were down in Peoria last fall to watch my husband’s nephew’s football game and we had a nice time. On the way home we decided to stop at an apple orchard. We went through the store and got cider, honey, donuts, caramel apples, apples, etc. and spent a pretty penny on all of it. When it came to walking around outside I noticed they had an area to play but they wanted $8 per person no matter the age. So for 5 of us that would be $45 which seemed to me like a lot of money.

Fast forward to a week or so ago and all of a sudden it hits me. As I’m looking at budgets and thinking about food and money I’m realizing my thinking is all wrong! I was willing to drop a bunch of money on food and “tangible” items but I wasn’t willing to pay $45 to create a memory. I always want to walk away with something or get something from what I put my money toward but that means we buy a lot of treats and food. We get tired of all the little trinkets around the house so we tend not to buy souvenirs but isn’t creating a memory and an experience just as important?

As I examined my heart I found that I was focused on all the wrong things. I had been taught to reward, comfort, etc with food but why not change my thinking and reward with spending time together or experiencing something together. Why not spend money on an experience or a memory instead of food or “stuff.”

Alternative to food rewards: go for a walk, play at the park, play a game together, go hiking, date with a parent, reading a book together.

Alternatives to eating out/food: trampoline park, splash pad, swimming, biking, softball, tennis.

What are some of your ideas in this area?

Mediterranean Chicken Bowls

So recently my husband and I had the privilege of going on an all expenses paid trip to the San Francisco Bay area for Shaklee. They served the most WONDERFUL food and we didn’t feel full and yucky because of what we ate! It was all HEALTHY and they served mostly fruit for dessert. Below is a picture of one of our lunches. As we assembled it, I thought, I can make this at home and so I did!

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First off, I have to say that this HUGE bowl is so important. I thought we had big bowls at home but this one is so much larger. I love it for salads and such and wish I could say where you could get one but Shaklee gifted these to us!

We started with the base. There were three options I made. Some of you may be thinking this is so much food and so overwhelming. We had friends coming over and really it was like making all the fixings for tacos. You could just make one of these as a base instead of all three.

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From Left to right: Red Quinoa, Cauliflower Rice, Cilantro Lime Brown Rice.

RED QUINOA- I had eaten quinoa before but never Red Quinoa. I cooked it according to the directions. Usually I soak it in water first and rinse it really well. You could cook it in vegetable broth or chicken broth as well to give it more flavor. Then I added dried cherries that I had chopped to it once it cooled. At the event, they added dried cranberries but I happened to be out so used dried cherries.

CAULIFLOWER RICE- I took a whole head of cauliflower and roughly chopped it and put it in the food processor and pulsed until it resembled rice. I then melted some infused olive oil with a little butter in a pan and sautéed it. I also add some minced garlic. Once it was cool I added chopped parsley.

CILANTRO LIME BROWN RICE- I cooked the brown rice per the directions and then added the juice of a couple small limes and chopped cilantro! This is one of my favorite flavor combinations!

Once you have your grain in the bottom of the bowl I then add some spring mix. I get a HUGE thing of organic spring mix at Aldi for about $3.50. That way if I don’t have time to chop lettuce and such that week I still can grab a healthy meal.

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You could put your protein either on top of the lettuce or at the very end. I chose to put my protein under my toppings. I marinated chicken in some Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette and then grilled it. At the Shaklee event they had Salmon as an option too. I suppose you could do what you would like there. We chopped our chicken into small pieces to make it easier for us and the kids to eat.

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Once we have the chicken in place then we can go nuts with toppings! Be sure to let me know what other toppings you would include. All of these are fairly self explanatory except the red pepper puree. I got that part from another recipe I tried before this bowl. I would also add to the list of toppings avocado, but I was out. Now looking at my first picture they also had hard boiled eggs too!

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Row 1 left to right: Black Beans, grape tomatoes halved, cucumber Row 2 left to right: red onion, chickpeas, feta Row 3 left to right: hummus, roasted red pepper puree, kalamata olives.

We absolutely LOVE infused vinegar and oils. They taste amazing and are so healthy for you. We first learned about them in Traverse City, Michigan at a place called Fustini’s which will ship to you if you don’t have a local place. Here in the Quad Cities we are fortunate that we have a place that sells them. It is the same distributor of these oils just a different label. Green Thumbers which is a local green house carries the oils and vinegar and it looks like you can buy it online as well. What I like about Green Thumbers is you can get a small sample bottle like I did of any flavor. If you go to either of these shops you can also taste them!

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Options include: traditional balsamic, raspberry balsamic, garlic infused olive oil, tuscan herb olive oil, Sicilian lemon white balsamic and fresh lemons and limes.

I did not take a picture of my completed bowl but it was a HUGE hit! We love these and I even thought if I made a huge batch with all the toppings we could then assemble them throughout the week for a healthy lunch each day.

I hope you enjoy them!

Jessica

I wish my kids would….

Isn’t that a loaded statement? Oh, sometimes my girls just bicker and fight. They try to boss each other around. They don’t include others in what they do. They are self-fish. They get into conversations that they don’t need to be a part of. They are nosey. They think they know everything. They move too fast to get things done. They just won’t slow down. They are a reflection of me!

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Why do these thing irritate me so much? Because I see myself and my own sin in their actions. The harder part I find is changing my own behavior so that I can help them change. I can’t expect them to do something that I myself cannot even model. So where does that leave us? How can we make these changes that we need to?

First, I think it comes down to being open, honest, and humble with our kids. We need to let them know that we struggle with these things too. A wise friend told me that our kids can help hold us accountable as much as we hold them accountable. It’s about the relationship and working together. I personally struggle with so many things that I can become overwhelmed in my own sin. I need to remember God’s grace in all of it. I need to know that I am not perfect and never will be. I also need to not use that as a crutch or excuse to get out of something. It is all about balance. So let’s identify some practical ways to work on this. (Note: I’m type A so if you are type B there may be a different formula :))

  1. Make a list of all the things you struggle with. Take your time doing this and just write down everything that comes to mind over a week. Don’t worry about it being petty or silly just brain dump as things come up.
  2. Take that list and look for common themes. Try to look at the bigger picture and what the issue really is. Maybe your list all boils down to priorities out of whack. Or maybe your list boils down to pride.
  3. Pick one theme and make an action plan to change it. Now that we have identified our problem, let’s work to come up with a solution. So if it was priorities out of whack maybe we need to list out our priorities and post them to read daily until we get a handle on them.
  4. Find a scripture for encouragement. Google is a beautiful tool. I also rely on wise friends to help point me to helpful scripture that can help us remember why we are wanting to make a change.

Whatever you do keep at it. Don’t throw out everything because of a bad day or even a bad week. Just get back up and try again. It just takes time.

Jessica

Do your values and actions align?

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I love when areas of life cross over into each other. It seems like as I develop in one area it spills over to another and that is so cool! The other night I was reading a book for business development. The point of the chapter was finding your motivation or your why? So I started to think about why I do my business and why I homeschool and why I stay home. He gave an example. He said if I put a ten inch wide, 30 foot long board on the ground and told you I would give you $20 to walk across it, everyone would do it. Now if I took that same board and put it between two 100 foot tall buildings and gave you $20 to walk across most people wouldn’t. Now say your child was on the other building and the building was on fire. You would probably walk across the board regardless of whether he offered the money or not! The only thing that changed was your why. Our why for doing something needs to be so incredibly strong that it needs to be able to carry us through the hard times, the trying times, the bad times, etc.

What is your why? Why do you homeschool, stay home or even work? Why do you spend hours during the day doing what you do? Take the time and write it down. If you are more visual than create a board but no matter what know you why! When those though times arise look back at your why to remind you why you are doing it. Here are my why:

  1. Why I homeschool? I love kids and I enjoy spending my days with my own kids. I want to raise my kids up as disciples of Christ and I feel I have the best opportunity by keeping them home. I enjoy the flexibility and the time we have to walk through things as quickly or as slowly as they need. My kids are able to enjoy more free play and do special projects because we can get the basics out of the way. Training my kids to think through problems and not just accept what they are told, even by me is something I want to spend time fostering and don’t feel I could adequately do that by sending them to school.
  2. Why I do Shaklee? First off, I love the company and the science behind it. Many companies make claims but Shaklee has the science to back it up and not just any research but studies by UC Berkley among others and they are published in peer reviewed journals. Adam and I feel better when we take our supplements and so do our kids. We have not spent nearly as much money on doctors and pharmacy these past 6 months as we have in the past. We want to preserve our health and the environment. It also serves as a plan B  for income, if something happens to Adam.

He then went on to talk about how our values and beliefs need to line up with our actions. There are several home based businesses out there: Norwex, Mary Kay, Shaklee, Thirty one, and Trades of Hope to name a VERY few. Each one offers a something different. The person that is running their business needs to have their values align with the company or it will cause stress. Although I saw the business reference I had a HUGE ah-ha with my personal life. About 6 years ago, I was teaching full time and had two kids in daycare. My values said God first, then family, then work. My actions said work first, then family, then God. I was working all day, then I would get my kids from daycare, feed them, bathe them and put them to bed and then catch up on house work and groceries to do it all again the next day. I couldn’t put my all into my job and my family.

See now before we had kids working full time was not an issue at all and it didn’t really get in the way with other things. There is nothing wrong with being a working mom. Everyone has different priorities and that is ok. People also have different personalities. I couldn’t let all the house stuff go. Although looking back I should have hired a cleaning lady!

I personally could not “sell” bags or jewelry. There is nothing wrong with these items but they don’t fit in with my lifestyle. I don’t even really wear jewelry or bags!

I encourage you today to not just mentally think about your why. There is something powerful that happens when you write it down and even more powerful when you decide to tell others. It holds us accountable and makes it more real.

Why do you do what you do? Will you share it with us?

Jessica

Affirmation

So I struggle with anxiety. I have for as long as I can remember and I’ve been to a lot of counseling with various counselors. Some helpful and others not so helpful. The guidance I found most helpful was to identify irrational thoughts such as “I’m going to die” or “Everybody hates me.” Once we identified the irrational thoughts we came up with counter thoughts to those such as “I have been checked out by a doctor and nothing is wrong. I will be ok.” or “Some people may not like me and that is ok but there are plenty of people that love me.” This was a helpful exercise along with accepting how I feel and  breathing normally.

Well, nothing is a perfect solution and if you know anything about anxiety you know that you will always struggle. It will never quite go away but you can learn how to manage it. As some of you know after my mom’s death I took over her home based business. I was looking to begin one under her anyway. I have to say that this process of learning the business in just three short months has been great for my anxiety. I can’t say I have loved dealing with it but man I’m certainly working on myself. So you see I would get disappointed everyone once in a while like maybe when it seemed like everyone else got invited to something and I didn’t or maybe when I found out someone I loved said something hurtful about me. Well, in the multi-level marketing business you get disappointed a lot. You hear “no” a lot and it’s not personal. Just not everyone wants what you have to offer and some aren’t even willing to hear you out. This has been great for me because I have to learn on a daily basis how to accept it and just move on. I can’t over think it and wonder, “Was it me or something I said?” I will tell you that I still do some of that but it can get you down. The business also has fun, exciting, up times and other times where you are down. I have had to learn in these three short month how to deal with.

The other day as I phone a VERY kind and loving friend who told me I needed to write down affirmations. After she explained them and gave examples they sounded very much like my irrational thoughts I learned to counter. See you take a thought like “My kids are driving me insane and I can’t seem to get any school work done.” and you turn that into a statement like “I love my kids and the time we have to spend together. Our days are very productive and we have quality instruction time in math, science, reading, and writing.” You do this for each thought you have and then you post them or read them to yourself daily. I know it totally sounds crazy but I have heard this more than once from wise people.

Darren Hardy has another take on it. I find it all quite interesting. As I grew up my dad had me read a book called “The Inner Game of Music.” There were other books with similar titles and it came down to that our mind and thoughts control how we perform in many areas. So I sat down today and I wrote out my affirmations and posted them on the mirror. What have I got to lose? NOTHING! I have everything to gain. It’s all about attitude!

Jessica

Just. Keep. Going

Don’t you ever want to give up? I can’t tell you how many days I question what I am doing in many areas of life. Whether it be homeschooling, business, blogging. I mean really who reads all this stuff with no pictures? I think a lot of times we make a difference and don’t even realize it. We live in a society of instant gratification. We look around and think that people have what they have because they got lucky or it just landed in their lap or someone gave it to them. But really it took a lot of hard work.

We went to Disney this past fall and I was just amazed at all the parks and the people and the money that had been poured into it. I just kept thinking they were making a killing! I had been as a kid and it was nothing like it was today. When I got home I was intrigued and started to read Disney’s story about how he started out and it was not a glamorous road. He tried and failed time after time. Sometimes his films were flops. Sometimes he ran out of money. Yet he kept going and look where he is today. I wonder if he were alive today if he would be surprised at the success of his company.

When Adam and I first got married and started out we were so worried about buying our first starter home. I remember one year going to the parade of homes and just being in awe at some of the homes and thinking we would never be able to afford anything even close to that. We had a nice starter home and had remodeled it but we couldn’t imagine affording a house with granite and nice shower and jacuzzi. Well fast forward ten years and we could. It wasn’t overnight that it fell in our lap and there were quite a few changes with me staying home but yet we kept working hard.

As a homeschooling mom I often wonder what I am thinking. Are my kids learning anything? Have we done anything fun this year? I feel like all we do is bicker or put out fires with sibling squabbles or messes, etc. For a while I would blog monthly on a personal blog and go back and write about what we did. I did that for myself but also so Adam’s family could read about it. Well, I was always amazed at all the things we did and all the stuff I had forgotten about. It was fun to keep the kids work and see their progress. Maya expressed interest midway through the year at starting cursive. She is only in first grade! I look back at her handwriting from last year and it was so hard to read but now she writes pretty well in cursive. We didn’t do anything fancy just a page a day four days a week and there was improvement.

Success doesn’t just happen and it doesn’t happen quickly. The most important thing it to keep at it. Keep going and you will see results. If you fail, its ok just stand back up and keep going. We will get knocked down and bruised and beat up but in the end all that matters is that we kept going!

Where do you struggle with disappointment in your life? Keep a journal of success or good things that happen to look back on as encouragement.

Jessica

My School Room

My school room is by no means an idea of my own. I stole it from the Confessions of a Homeschooler blog. Ikea didn’t have exactly what she has and I am not done with my school room yet! It’s a work in progress and will grow and change as we do. A few people have asked me dimensions and such so I thought, why not write a blog post 🙂

Remember my pictures aren’t pretty and I did not pick up or clean to take them.

We started making small changes in the school room as we could afford them and we still aren’t done yet. The first and most pressing issue was storage so we bought the Kallax Storage unit first. Ours was four cubes by four cubes because not much else would fit the way we wanted. I’m also short so this is plenty tall for my reaching. They do make them 5 x 5, 1 x 4, etc so it can fit your needs. They also come in different colors. My house has a lot of dark wood so I feel this fits better for our decor. IKEA has a variety of different bins you can stick into these cubes from fabric to woven to plastic.

The “legs” of the large desk in the middle are the Alex drawers. They run $80 each! The top of the table is actually two pieces. They are the Linnmon Table Top and we bought two. These also come in different sizes but in order to have enough room for a chair with the storage units I don’t think we could go smaller. My husband engineered this all together and it is one large piece now but can be taken apart. It measures about 5 feet by 5 feet.

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We love the space and the fact the table is so large. Even then at times it seems we don’t have space for everything. My kids organize their school books in their desk how they see fit. For me, I have a drawer for each kid with my “teacher” books specific to them and then a drawer for the books that I use with all the kids.

The whiteboard I picked up at Target for $20. The bulletin board a friend got me at a college surplus sale and it was like $10. We still plan to get a different computer table and new chairs but that will come with time. Next to the storage cubes there are three “lines” that we got at IKEA but I can’t find what they are called. We have one for each kid and hang their work on it. There are little clips to hang everything from.

Please let me know what questions you have about our room or share with me about how your room is set up.

Jessica