Sometimes we need an easy win, right? More often than not food can be a contention between parent and child. Sometimes it’s the type of food, sometimes it’s the way the food is presented. I’d say my greatest struggle with food and kids is when we are out and about craving a treat, and I have not prepared something in advance.
Now we won’t go into anaphylactic shock if we eat certain foods, but if we make our particular sensitivities a habit the effects will be devastating, short term and long term. So, when I get stuck with not great food options, I feel extra lousy because it’s a product of my poor planning. The kids know certain choices aren’t good for them (they can feel it instantly!), and yet they want them so bad and when they don’t have something to fall back on- cue the understandable bad tempers. Guilty frustrated mom, hungry frustrated kids: it’s a crummy situation overall folks. Luckily, there is a way to prevent that. My ”easy win” is pre-packed treat boxes full of things my kids have picked out at Costco. They’ve read all the labels and been empowered to make “treat” choices within our diet restrictions. Once we are at home we portion and prepare the snacks popping them into handy glass or stainless steel containers then store them in the fridge. Boy, does it help with all our hikes, piano lessons, library trips, Field Trip Fridays, to and from church, 4h meetings- pretty much anywhere the snack cravings hit! The one rule we like to follow is that these are for on-the-go only, otherwise none of the leftovers at home would get eaten, haha!
Let me show you some of our favorite snacks.
That’s all for now folks! What treats do you prepare so that you can have something quick and healthy on hand?
Do I already have Easter baskets assembled for the kids? You bet your hot cross buns I do! I get endless teasing for how early I do things but I simply do not care. There is peace in planning and I get better deals if I gather things throughout the year for their baskets. Yes, you read that right, I got some of these things last year on a clearance sale. Don’t worry, I don’t get the candy a year in advance, haha!
There is nothing I love more than putting together a Easter basket for my kiddos. This is a tradition that I am so glad that Husband brought into our family from his childhood. This year I thought I’d do a little peak into what I usually do for their baskets. While it’s tempting to fill it with a lot of toys and tons of candy, I bet you can imagine that I tend to err on the side of practicality- you’re right! However, I’m not a total curmudgeon and I have some really great brands I recommend for candy options; No Whey, Choc No No’s, Yum Earth, Enjoy Life, UnReal, Project 7, and Smart Sweets.
Naturally, it wouldn’t be a gift giving situation for my kiddos if it didn’t involve BOOKS! Gotta have some good reads with those treats. This year the bigs are getting their own Bibles. They were due for something more substantial since they haven’t gotten a Bible since their toddlerhood. C also is getting Ember Green, a new series I’m excited for him to start, Dinotopia, and a Trixie Belden mystery. Miss A is getting a Trixie Belden, The Jolly Postman, and Just Plain Fancy. Pickle is getting giant coloring book for church and a WaterWow. Pickle is also getting some chalk for our outdoor chalk board- can’t wait to use that more again, she’s going to really enjoy it this year.
All three are getting matching summer pjs and some neat homeschooling t shirts with different sayings on them. C’s says, “Join the resistance, homeschool” in StarWars print and he’s just gonna love it! A is getting a shirt that says, “Not all classrooms have four walls” and Pickle’s shirt says, “The world is my classroom.” I think that they are gonna love them!
I splurged on the super cute wooden bunny name tags, but I figure it’s okay because all the baskets were thrifted, right?
Planning Easter was never so fun! I can’t wait for the baking and cleaning frenzy to start. For Catholics in particular, Easter is our jam, much bigger than Christmas! We are the Easter people! I try to make Easter as big of deal as possible. The practical part of assembling the Easter baskets early is to mentally check it off. That way I don’t end up buying all the cute spring nicknacks that flood the stores and am more intentional about their gifts.
Our field trips have been taking us outside more and thank goodness for that! The sunny weather cannot come soon enough. Meanwhile, I’ll be content with overcast skies for our outings, just as long as it’s not a downpour. It’s is frightfully difficult to find motivation for hiking when a proper PNW rain starts. I’ve been incorporating history successfully into the field trips AND hikes. I had the idea to do grave stone rubbings, which for the life of me, I cannot think why I haven’t thought of before.
Auburn has a historical cemetery right in the middle of town! Some even say it’s in the dead center…get it? Haha! When we went to this cemetery I was astonished to find a Civil War veteran buried there. The kids got a rubbing of the grave stone, we took it home and did some research and WOAH! You will not believe the high drama that surrounded this guy’s life. Check out the story here. One of my favorite things to discover with the kids are all the mysteries behind the lives these people had. It feels like we are real historians learning about the local people who came before us. Fun fact, Auburn used to be called Slaughter. Slaughter! Who would have thought?!
This past week we made the trek out to Franklin Ghost Town which didn’t disappoint. We accidentally ended up hiking 4 miles instead of 2.5 but that’s another story. Anyways, we saw the 1,300 foot mine shaft where some miners died (suspected murder!) and the small decrepit but touching cemetery, the remains of the coal car tracks, and the ruins of the powder house. The kids got great rubbings of some of the graves. Of course we are always very respectful and gentle when we get rubbings, only getting them from grave stones that are in decent condition and not roped off. The kids are very into doing the rubbings and finding these “lost in time” historical sites, as C calls them. There were at one point 1,100 citizens in the town, and 15 different nationalities and languages being spoken! Talk about a diverse group. The mine shaft has an incredible view of Mt. Rainier, it feels like you can just reach out and touch it.
We also stopped by the Black Diamond Cemetery, another historical location know for its paranormal activity! While we were excited by the potential spookiness, we didn’t see or hear anything out of the normal. Just a rooster crowing. Or was it? Haha. I tried to convince the kids it was someone howling, and I received quite the eye rolls which I may or may not have been aiming for, haha! There were many Italian names on the old graves which makes me wonder if Black Diamond hosted a large amount of Italian immigrants at one point- must have right? There were some really beautiful quotes on some of the stones with tragic implications, such as young woman and two infants buried together, since the infants didn’t even live a day we assumed she died in child birth.
A week or so ago we went out to Point Defiance Park which is a labryinth of trails and I accidentally ended up adding a mile or two to our hike (hm, I’m noticing a theme here). We finally made it to the ancient mountaineering tree! This tree was a sapling when William Shakespeare was born- wowza! The bigs and I chatted all the way back about what that tree has seen, or not seen, and how noisy it’s life must be now.
If you’re wondering where Pickle is in all these pictures, she usually munching on a snack in the backpack. She is hiking more and more and covered about a mile all on her own on this past weekend’s adventure, “Me wun, mama!” Im definitely ready for her to “wun” as much as she wants. I will bring however many raisins I need to bribe her; she’s getting big! I’m so grateful we can have these adventures throughout the kiddos childhood, I hope they have fond memories of these days. I know I will.
I recently read an article that discussed how stay-at-home moms are around their children all the time but frequently are not present. Boy, did I feel that to my core. The author mentioned how it’s so easy to be so overwhelmed by the noise of motherhood that we don’t ever really listen– which made me think to myself, “Abby, when was the last time you really listened to the kids?” Oh, I’ve heard them. I hear them all day long and sometimes night. But it’s been a bit since I’ve listened to their little hearts.
I have to be honest with you. I struggle with being present. I have difficultly focusing on all the little joys of motherhood because, well, all the big burdens of motherhood get in the way. We are the foundation of the household and if we slack I feel like the whole house will crumble. Whenever one of my kids is chatting endless in my ear I must admit, my mind wanders to the endless list of things I need to do. Let me elaborate.
My kids have the opportunity to earn what I call “special time coupons”. If I need a set amount of time with one child during school but Pickle has reached her limit, I ask the available child to entertain her for a few minutes so I am available to give undivided attention to the issue with school work. These coupons can be cashed in to add extra time to the individual special time they each get night with a parent. I was astounded that both big kids always cash in their coupons for time with me. ME! I’m the one home all day with them, I’m the one always doing things with them. I was surprised they didn’t want time with Husband. However, my daughter illuminated me with this one comment; “I feel like I never get to chat with you mom.”
Oof. Cue the mom guilt.
I felt horrible when she said that. All those parenting books I’ve read never talk about how to balance parenting with, oh ya know, homeschooling, 3 autoimmune disorders, household finances, housework, chef duties, maid duties, driving duties, extracurricular coordinator duties.. the list goes on and on! I can’t do it all! Actually, apparently I can, just not well. So when I daughter said that, I felt enough realization to ditch all my social media permanently. I didn’t need another pointless time sink. And things improved. Lately however, I feel like I’m slipping. I’m overwhelmed and over worked. Being present has taken a back seat. With my autoimmune illnesses does come a certain amount of brain fog occasionally, but this just feels like I need another jolt of fire to bring me back to the present. I want to be able to tune out all the background noise and listen more.
Do I have a plan? Not really. Except maybe, “let it goooo!!” (Sorry, I had to). I find if I am not reactive to my stress, the whole household functions better. Is that a lot of pressure? Heck, yeah. Or maybe it’s a opportunity to harness the grace of motherhood, the epic calling that is being the bottom line to an entire family. There is peace and beauty in the struggle, I am sure of it. I have felt it before and I’m searching for it again. In the meantime, I’ll try to soak up all the little joys in the journey.