Call me lucky

A photo of my two and some friends drawing inspirational messages on the sidewalk at a local park.

A photo of my two and some friends drawing inspirational messages on the sidewalk at a local park.

My kids are 2 years and four months apart. They’re three school grades apart. One is a girl. One is a boy. Because of the three year school difference, they haven’t ridden the same school bus since the youngest was in 1st grade. A lot has changed since then. The biggest change is that my kids consider each other one of their best friends. 

As someone who didn’t become a parent until their mid-30’s, watching this relationship change and grow has been a wonder. As a mom, I’m a natural worrier. What will happen when we’re gone? Will they even like each other? Will they even see or speak to each other? As a sister myself to four, I know my relationship with my siblings has changed throughout my 40+ years. When once I looked to some with sheer annoyance and other with sheer awe, I now look at them as people I enjoy spending time with. There have been times when some of us have been really really close, and times when others have us have been really really far away– and I’m not talking about physical distance. 

But, when push has come to shove in my life, I know that my siblings are the ones who will be there for me. No. matter. what. And I hope they can say the same thing about me. 

Back to my two. For most of the ten years they’ve been siblings, they’ve always gotten along very well. There’s the occasional bicker or fight, but it’s always been short lived. Although they got along, they weren’t really what I would call friends. Something happened, though, within the last 12 months. As my ten year old has become more mature, and more aware that there is actually a world outside of his tunnel vision, he has shown such incredible love and support to my thirteen year old. She has anxiety and OCD, and sometimes has a very hard time in various situations. He instinctively takes care of her. He gives her special hugs, he rubs her back to calm her down, he whispers words of encouragement or little jokes into her ear. 

When I see this, my heart melts, and makes me thankful. I see them in my head as they are adults, and I see great laughter, talks and support. 

I am the witness to beauty enfolding right before me. 

Make afternoon snacks delicious and rich in protein.

I don’t know about you, but this summer has gone by waaaay too quickly. It doesn’t help that the district we live in changed the school calendar for the upcoming school year, and consequently shaved two weeks off of this summer. With camps, summer school classes for my over achiever, and just some good old fashioned summer fun, we’ve been running non-stop since the beginning of June. 

My kids are both carb junkies. While the occasional carb is okay, tucking into a whole box of crackers or a bag of chips isn’t a good snack habit for them to get into. So I have to watch what I buy, and where I place it in our fridge and pantry area. What’s up front, is what will get eaten first. I’ve been trying to be more thoughtful (and sneaky) in my choices as I would prefer that they leaned towards more high protein things. 

Shamrock FarmsEnter Shamrock Farms and their single serve milk varieties – regular, strawberry and chocolate flavored. I normally don’t buy chocolate or strawberry milk for my kids as we try very hard to not be a HFCS house, so learning that Shamrock Farms uses real sugar earns them a gold star frm me! Not only are they an easy size to keep in the front of the fridge, but Shamrock Farms takes healthy snacks (and meals) to heart on their website. They have some really cute, and fun, ideas for pairing a healthy snack with a carton of their protein rich milk. 

Since Shamrock Farms is now available at Walmart, and I’ve been a frequent visitor to my local store trying to check everything off the back-to-school lists, my kids and I decided we should give some of the recipes for snacks a try. 

Over the course of the past week, we made three different snacks. I talked to them about having them available after school, and they were excited to hear we could make these again, and try some of the other ideas/recipes that Shamrock Farms suggests as well. 

IMG_4762First we put together Fruit Kabobs. I’m a lazy fruit kabob person–I purchase the already mixed fruit packets which can be found in the refrigerator section in the fruit and vegetable department at Walmart. This way, I know I can purchase a nice variety for my kids without breaking the bank and worrying about wasted food. This one we followed the recipe loosely as you can do this with any/all fruit. You can find kabob sticks in the garden department at Walmart, and you can get a large bag of them for 88 cents (or at least that’s the price in Cincinnati). 

Fruit KabobsMy kids loved putting their kabobs together, and they then loved eating them. This one is definitely something that can easily be made by them after school without any assistance from me. A win win for us all!

Banana RollsNext we tried making Banana Rolls. This one was also easy to make and easy to eat and perfect with a carton of Shamrock Farms milk. Although the kids could assemble this one on their own, toasting it in a skillet was something that I needed to supervise. But, we found that we could make these ahead, put them in the refrigerator, and they were just as yummy the next day. 

Healthy SmoresOur final experiment was with making Healthy S’mores. My two are apple cutting pros, so with just a little instruction help from me, they were able to do this one on their own. I think it would be very simple for them to recreate on their own. And let’s face it- what’s not to love about apples and peanut butter? adding the granola is pure crunch genius (hope this snack isn’t just for kids!)

I’m really looking forward to this coming school year. And it’s not just because I can kick my kids to the curb to catch the bus. It’s because with the help of Shamrock Farms, as a family, we have a better plan for after school snacks. Since my kids get home hours before dinner, knowing we’ve discussed, purchased, and have in place both healthy, wise and fun choices is a great feeling. They don’t know any different – a snack is a snack is a snack, but I do. Creating good habits that will last a lifetime is important.

Next time you’re at Walmart, be sure to look for Shamrock Farms milk in the dairy section. Currently in Cincinnati, you can find them at the Red Bank and the Eastgate stores. And be double sure to enter their back-to-school sweepstakes to have a chance to win up to $5,000 in gift cards. I know how expensive back-to-school shopping can be, so in my opinion, this is just amazing for them to do this for their customers. Also grab the coupon on their website for $1.00 off four on-the-go milks.

Disclosure: Shamrock Farms is sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed though are mine.

Home Alone

KeysHow would you answer this question? Do you enjoy being on your own?  My answer is an emphatic and passion filled “NO”. I hate being by myself. I always have.  I’m not sure where this goes back to in my life, but I think it has to do with the fact that I think my parent’s home is haunted or possessed. One of my earliest memories is a warm summer evening, with everyone in the backyard putting up a new swing set. I’m probably five or six. I have to head inside to use the facilities, only to be greeted by a man telling me to get out of his house. Can you say freaked out? That was me.

Or, when I was in college, home for the winter break, alone on a weekend night wrapping presents— A sudden BOOM in the basement had me in tears and locking the door between the upstairs and the basement while frantically calling one of my brothers and boyfriend to come and save me! They told me to call our neighbor to come and check it out, so I did. I have another vivid memory of sweet Tommy Thompson, weighing about 150 sopping wet, charging across the street with a baseball bat to save the day.

One that day, when my Mom got home, we learned that the furnace was faulty, and made a weird booming noise sometimes when turning on.  The first experience, during the summer,  is still not resolved for me. I have no idea if it was a real man, a ghost, or just a vivid imagination. 

Consequently, when my parents are out of town, and I’m in charge of the plants/mail, etc., I never go over by myself. I always drag one of my kids or husband – like any of them could really protect me. I know it’s goofy, but it makes it possible for me to enter without complete and sheer terror.

This same fear, though, applies to most any house I’m in alone—particularly at night.  During day light hours, I’m often home alone, and it’s fine. In fact, that kind of alone/quiet I can find somewhat peaceful most days.

This fear of being along has been on my mind more this week, since for the past few nights, everyone but me, and the dogs, are away. This pile of keys is sitting on my desk in my bedroom. I know in my head that if there actually was someone in my house, having this pile of keys, and being behind a locked flimsy bedroom door, isn’t going to do diddly to save me. And yet, I do it. Every time I’m the only one sleeping at home, even if the rest of the fam is just in the backyard, I go around taking the keys off the tops of the doors, and laying them down inside my bedroom walls.  I hunker down in my bed, with music blaring, and curtains not closed (to let in light), wondering if my dogs would even bark if someone, or thing, made a noise outside my door.  Sometimes, my crazy thoughts mean no, or at least, stilted sleep. Other times, I can convince myself that all is well in my corner of the house, and sleep, although not particularly deep nor long lasting, sleep does come and visit.

As I get older, I worry about being alone someday. I’ve never lived on my own for more than a few days. I moved from my parent’s home, into a dorm room, into my husband’s and my first apartment. I have no idea if I could even do it. Will I end up living with one of my kids? Growing up, my great grandmother lived with my grandparents. I always thought that must have been really awful for my grandparents, particularly my grandmother. She never really spent more than a few days of her married life away from her own mother.  How horrifying. Hmmm, maybe not from my great grandmother’s perspective. Maybe she too didn’t like being by herself. Instead, being close to her family brought her deep comfort and joy. Perhaps I’ll find out one day, but I really hope that I don’t have to.