Sunday, August 19, 2012

Leader Enterprise - August 15, 2012 - Getting ready for school


I just returned from one of the nicest vacations and adventures I've ever had. I went to the Midwest to visit someone I had never met before. When my adult son said to me the night before my departure, "So you're going to visit someone you don't know?, I replied with "Oh, I KNOW her, I just haven't met her yet".  I went to visit a very special friend whom I have come to know through blogging and email. Her blog is appropriately named "4 little Fergusons", because she is the mother of 4 precious children (ages 2-9), and that is their last name.  Because I have a teacher's heart, I spent much time with the children: coloring, playing games, teaching them rhymes, making kid-friendly ice cream in a bag, and holding them on my lap. They decided I was their 'new' grandma. Before I left the oldest said to me "Mrs.B (they were not allowed to call me by my first name), when you come back again (I'm coming back?=) would you bring Mr. B with you so we know what our new grandpa looks like". Sweet! It was a special memory-making time and we had a ball together. "A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face"-Maya Angelou,Letter to My Daughter

I know that preparing to get kids ready for school makes for a lot of busy-ness and weariness too. So when I read this adorable story in the Chicken Soup for the Parent's Soul, I thought that you parents with school-aged children could really appreciate this. I hope it will bring a smile and lighten your heart.  Fair warning-I just might have to ask Leader photographers to be on the lookout on the first day of school, so however you choose to celebrate the first day of ‘freedom’, don't forget to be looking over your shoulder.

DANCING IN THE STREET by Raymond Aaron:

Parenthood: The state of being better chaperoned than you were before marriage.-Marcelene Cox

"It happened on a bright morning, early in September, some years ago as I came out the front door of my home on my way to work. As I headed for my car, I saw her, out there in the middle of the road. DANCING. My neighbor. A mother. A wife. Otherwise, quite mature. Nevertheless, dancing in her pajamas and robe, and wearing her giant furry-dog bedroom slippers. Sipping on coffee, dancing. Curlers in her hair. And all alone, to the tune of some music only she could hear, my neighbor was dancing!

I was stopped dead in my tracks. Staring. She saw me and laughed, and giggled and danced some more. And then, by way of an explanation, she called out to me: "I have four children, and this morning, my youngest just went off to her first day of school. I'M FREEEEE!" And she kept on dancing!"

Research shows that kids who eat breakfast fare much better in school. It not only helps maximize school performance, but helps them properly develop physically also. Breakfast doesn't have to be a victim of the early morning rush. Make a Breakfast Split by adding fruit and granola to yogurt. Some healthy foods can be eaten on the go. Place in a disposable cup if need be. Toast or waffles with peanut butter are a great way to begin the school day, and are simple to eat on the way to school.  Smoothies made with fruit,milk and yogurt make for a tasty beginning to the day, especially for those that don't want something hot in their bellies first thing in the morning.

This is a fun breakfast to make ahead. Toast or microwave frozen for a quick breakfast.

INVISIBLE BANANA FRENCH TOAST  
2 eggs
1 banana, sliced
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 slices white or wheat bread
1-2 Tb. margarine or oil
Place eggs, banana slices and cinnamon in blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into bowl; heat margarine. Dip bread into batter and fry until browned. Serve with warm maple syrup or peanut butter. For a quick breakfast, roll up and eat on the go.

This is a simple kid-friendly recipe that would make a yummy after-sch0ol snack. Adapt to your family's tastes, using a favorite cereal or another dried fruit.

MONKEY CEREAL BARS
1/4 c. butter or margarine
1 (10-oz) bag mini marshmallows
2 Tb. unsweetened baking cocoa
6 c. Cocoa Puffs cereal
1 c. coarsely crushed dried banana chips
1 c. coarsely chopped nuts
1/4 c. flaked coconut

Spray 13"X9" pan with cooking spray. In 4-qt. saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add marshmallows; cook 4-6 minutes, stirring constantly until melted. Stir in cocoa until well blended. Remove from heat. Stir in cereal, banana chips, nuts and coconut until evenly coated; pour into prepared pan. Spread mixture evenly, pressing down slightly. Cool 30 minutes. Cut into bars. Yield: 12 bars (Even better if you toast the nuts and coconut first)

APPLE SMILES have always been a favorite to fix for kids. Cut a red apple in half; core,then slice each half into 4-5 slices. On one side of each apple slice, spread peanut butter, add 4-5 mini marshmallows to represent teeth, then top with another slice, peanut butter side down. You'll have 2 'lips' and 'teeth'.  

Another healthy snack is to serve fresh baby carrots and celery along with ranch dip.

Trust the new school year has everyone beginning on the right foot.