Make-Ahead Breakfasts for Back to School

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Whether we’re homeschooling or sending our kids off to a private or public school – or anything in between – we all have one thing in common: we have a lot to get done in the morning and need to eat something, too!

Even though I don’t have kids in grade school yet, this year my daughter will be going to preschool three days a week, plus I have an active 2-year-old boy and a needy baby. On days when we just stay home, I still feel like it’s mania around here until about 9 a.m.

One thing that works for me is having breakfast made before the morning. I like making big batches and having options in the freezer; but I’ve also been known to make coffee cake or baked oatmeal the night before. Whatever works for you is what works!

So just for you, here are 25 make-ahead breakfast ideas to keep you from reaching for the cereal boxes every morning.

1. French Breakfast Muffins

2. Heart Healthy Apple Oat Bran Muffins

3. Broccoli Quiche Muffins

4. Basic, Easy Granola with Variations

5. Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal

6. Giant Brown Butter Granola Breakfast Cookies

7. Pancake and Sausage Muffins

8. Breakfast Muffins

9. French Toast Sticks

10. Freezer Breakfast Burritos

11. McMom’s Breakfast Sandwiches

12. Zucchini Spice Muffins

13. Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

14. Slow Cooker Oatmeal with Apricots and Buttermilk

15. Pumpkin Pie Waffles

16. No Sugar Oat Drops

17. Mini Cinnamon Rolls

18. Ham, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Cups

19. Grain-Free Berry Breakfast Cobbler

20. Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

21. Apricot Breakfast Bars

22. Bacon Cheddar Scones

23. Cranberry, Nutmeg, and Vanilla Breakfast Cake

24. Lemon-Lime Breakfast Rolls

25. Banana and Blueberry Pancakes

Bon Appetit, friends! What’s your favorite breakfast?

 

 

photo source: Jeremy Kunz

Packing Lunch: Prepping for the New School Year

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Oh, my. Is it time to think about back-to-school already? In these parts, yes. Public school starts again around August 8th. And that is slowly but surely creeping up!

Maybe you have until after Labor Day … and if so, I’m jealous.

But since we’re all getting there eventually, it’s time to talk lunches and snacks. Here are a few great products as you think about school lunch in 2013-14.

KIND Yellow

 

KIND snacks have no artificial or secret ingredients and come in 28 varieties. From Maple-Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt bars (for Mom?!) to Peanut Butter clusters, all KIND products are made with ingredients you can pronounce and are full of antioxidants and fiber. A great lunchbox or snacktime treat.

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Hadaki Lunch Pods are the fashionable way for your older kids and teens to carry their lunch to school. In a large variety of prints, these pods are insulated, have a magnetic snap closure, and wipe down easily.

Kidz-Zone-Perfect-Bar-Nutrition

Kidz ZonePerfect is a kid-friendly line featuring 23 vitamins and minerals, five grams of protein and three grams of fiber. They are available in Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Caramel Crunch, and Yellow Cupcake. Better yet, ZonePerfect asked everyday moms and their kids to help design the new bars. By holding build-a-bar workshops, ZonePerfectwas able to deliver the nutritional needs of moms and the taste preferences of active kids – a win-win! Kidz ZonePerfect bars can be found at retailers like Walgreens, CVS, and Wal-Mart. See their website for a $1 coupon.

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Snikiddy is a line of all-natural snacks made from simple, wholesome, real-food ingredients. Snacks now come in 1.5-ounce packages for optimum lunchbox packing!

 

ParentLife was provided with samples of some of these products. All opinions are our own. 

Not Perfect, But Right for Us by Joy Fisher

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A few days ago I took my kids to play with some friends at the elementary school playground in preparation for school starting back this week. Watermelon and popsicles helped the children ease back into the group dynamic. Moms and dads stood around in the shade talking about how quickly the summer days have rushed by.

Construction has been ongoing on our school campus all summer. A new classroom wing is being added, and the older sections are getting cosmetic upgrades. The day we were there, the parking lot was still littered with construction equipment and storage trailers. It’s pretty safe to say that conditions will be less than perfect on the first day of school.

That experience is a good picture of how I feel about our choice to send our kids to public school. Every year, there’s a lot of pleasantness, but also a bit of clutter. Like many parents in the public school system, we did our homework and moved into a school zone we felt good about. We didn’t know it then, but eventually we needed special education services that included a program for our son who has Down syndrome as well as academic enrichments for our two little scholars.

My children entered grades 2, 4, and 6 last week. The key for getting off to a great start is the same formula I’ve used for many years: Be positive! Greeting administrators with a smile and signing up to help in my kids’ rooms sets the tone for the entire year. When those inevitable imperfections arise, I try to be a part of healthy solutions.

Enrolling in the public school system means there will always be frustrations regarding zoning, aging facilities, larger classes, and budget shortfalls. That’s the clutter. The bright spots are teachers who love kids, interaction with families from other cultures and walks of life, and the challenge of teaching our children to make the best of situations that are sometimes less than ideal.

Joy Fisher was part of the editorial team of ParentLife’s premiere issue over 16 years ago. These days, she serves as contract Content Editor of Bible Teaching for Kids Special Buddies, LifeWay’s Sunday School curriculum for children with special needs. She and David have been married since 1995 and are the parents of Samuel, Jacob, and Lara.  

Do your children attend public school? Tell us about your public-school experiences.

I Love This Lunchbox!

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When I make lunch for my sons (I did today in fact), I like to include a note in each or their lunchboxes. We have tried buying napkins that you can write on or pre-printed notes that you tear off and place in their lunches. But then I saw this cool lunchbox from Frecklebox.

Not only does it have a cool design with his name on the outside but a chalkboard on the inside lid so that I can write personal messages to him.

thumb-race-car-personalized-lunch-box.jpgFrecklebox has 20 designs of the lunchboxes with the chalkboard inside, so you are guaranteed to find one your child will love!

Frecklebox specializes in personalized gear: folders, books, and now retro lunchboxes. My son now has one of these cool lunchboxes, and we both love it!

Have you found a cool product for your kids to spice up lunchtime at school?

Parents as Teachers

No matter what your schooling choice, back to school is an exciting time. It is also a great time to reflect on how parents should be the primary teachers of their children, even if you choose to share some of your child’s education with your church or local school.

I always find that books are a great way to enter discussions with your children. I wanted to share a couple books that I have read recently — both old and new — that make great discussion starters with kids. In fact, these books were so engaging, that I could not put them down until I turned every page!

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Jesus From A to Z by Kevin Graham and Illustrated by Jennifer Yoswa (Windom) — Graham captures 26 key stories and truths from the life of Jesus in this A-to-Z style book, complete with engaging illustrations that will draw kids into each two-page spread. A great starter for family devotion times might be to pick a letter of the alphabet, look at the illustration and synopsis, then read the biblical passage with the story. Begin now at the pace of 2 stories a week, and it will lead you right into Advent season.

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The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes and Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) — I was engaged from the first page and could not put down this book for children. This story is a powerful teaching tool to talk about bullying, friendship, racism, cliques, and sensitivity to others who are different. This book may have been written specifically for girls in mind, but I think it is engaging for all kids. Use it to talk about the new school year and new friends at school and church.

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Holes by Louis Sachar (Random House) — Quirky, mysterious, and exciting — and probably written primarily for preteen boys — it gives subtle insights into some of these same themes mentioned above for The Hundred Dresses, except about boys. Ditto about using to talk about the new people God brings into our lives and how we treat them.

No matter your reading choice, research shows the more you read with your kids, the better they do in school! What are some of your favorite books to read with your kids?

A Healthy Lunch Option

This week is a busy week for most families as the kids head back to school. One source of stress for many families is knowing what to pack for lunch! Is it hard for you to find quick, easy, healthy options for your child’s lunch?

The Lunchables team hopes to relieve some of this stress by introducing a whole new line of Oscar Mayer Lunchables Lunch Combinations! 

 

75_Lunchable.jpgSome highlights of the new line include:

  • The introduction of the first sandwiches in the Lunchables Lunch Combination line
  • Turkey made with 100% turkey breast
  • Bread made with whole grain
  • Spring water as the drink
  • And, for the first time ever, Lunchables Lunch Combinations will feature applesauce!

While these nutritional advances are great, Lunchables has also extended its new changes from the inside out. The new packaging features a clear, snap-close container with an easy-to-read menu bar and recyclable packaging.

Lunchables Lunch Combinations are available in the refrigerated section of grocery stores and retail for $3.49.  To view the complete line of Lunchables Lunch Combinations visit www.lunchables.com.

Back-to-School Moms

When it comes to back to school, most news coverage focuses on getting the kids prepared for the new school year, but what about the newest population of students … moms?

In these uncertain times, a record number of moms will go back to college this fall to advance current careers, find new job options, and seize opportunities to contribute more to household finances during a recession. 

How do the families of college moms cope? Try the following tips from real-life college moms.73_Mom_online.jpg

  1. Gain the support of friends and family. We all need cheerleaders to accomplish the many things moms do in any single day. 
  2. When you go back to school supply shopping for the kids, don’t forget your own supplies for online studying like printer ink and paper, a spare battery pack for the laptop, and flash drives.
  3. Prepare meals for the week on Sunday. Whether it’s a hearty soup, lasagna, or a casserole, make meals that are filling and easy to take out of the freezer and reheat quickly.
  4. Work as a team. Show the kids that running a family requires team effort and that your schoolwork is important too. Let them pitch in to help out with family chores.
  5. Remind your significant other that he may need to brush up on his math and science skills because you will need him to help the kids with homework.
  6. Before you sit at your computer, take 15 minutes to do some stretching and/or a few sit-ups. Get the adrenaline pumping so that you are ready to commit to studying and homework.
  7. Instill in your children the value of making sacrifices. Teach them that hard work has positive results.
  8. For those single moms or stay-at-home moms who sometimes have to do it alone, it is OK to let your older children entertain themselves when you have deadlines to meet.
  9. Keep the faith. Everyone has their ups and downs, and sometimes, there are more downs than ups. At the end of the day you can still do this. Remind yourself how much your education means to you and of the future benefits it will bring to your entire family.
  10. Plan some alone time, even if it’s a 20-minute soak in the tub to relax after the children are in bed.

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Thanks to moms at Kaplan University (www.kaplan.edu)— where nearly 75% of students are women and the average student age is 34 — for their tips for juggling family, work, and school.

Have you decided to go back to school?
 
 

Back to School — Healthy

Our staff came across the following information from Dr. Stuart Fischer about how to eat healthy as a family during the back-to-school season, especially when a parent is struggling with weight issues. 

school-luncha.jpgTell the Truth

Be a great role model and tell the truth. Sit the family down for a heart-to-heart talk where the overweight parent should freely admit to the child that they are not a healthy weight and that some of their food choices have not been ideal. The parent should offer hope on how they will make healthy changes together – letting the children see how their lives can improve as a result.
 
Discover Your Personal Myths
The biggest issue in the weight-loss process for the parents is addressing “personal myths” – the excuses that people give themselves to rationalize their behavior. Once the parent recognizes these are excuses, they can move on to make the right choices for their family.
 
Make a Plan
The next step is to make a plan, keeping in mind that losing weight is actually quite simple. Work off more calories than you eat. Set a realistic weight-loss goal (no more than 2 pounds per week). Make a plan on how to incorporate more exercise in everyone’s day-to-day routine. Exercising two to three times a week is ideal at the beginning.
 
Cook and Shop Together

As a family, figure out what and how much you want to eat per day for your first week, then crunch the numbers and come up with a menu. There are tons of great healthy recipes online. Go shopping with your child and explain what foods are healthy. Teach kids to avoid “empty calories,” high-calorie foods with little to no nutritional content such as soda, sugary desserts, fast food, or potato chips.
 
Act on Other Issues
Everyone overeats for different reasons. Identify some of the issues causing them to eat, and then take mini-steps to change their behavior.
 
Reward, Reward, Reward
As the weight starts to come off, reward yourself in ways OTHER than food. It could be a new lip gloss, haircut, tickets for a game or play, outfit, purse, backpack, etc. Reward frequently but not lightly. A great time for a smaller reward would be after two weeks if everyone has been sticking to the plan and are on track for their weight-loss goals.
 
This is a great time to focus on good health for your sake and that of your child.  A new study shows that overweight and obese students are performing worse in school than their physically fit counterparts, jeopardizing their professional future as well as their health. For more information on Dr. Fischer and the celebrity consultants, please go to www.parkavenuediet.com.
 

Hooray for You! by Donna J. Noble

Looking for a new tradition for the first day of school? Check out this idea submitted by ParentLife writer Donna Noble.

We have a back-to-school tradition in our family. It began the year my nephew Brian was in kindergarten. I am sure that my sister never anticipated on the day of the first-ever “Bus Party!” that the celebration would lead to another and yet another, until the wheels on the bus had gone around and around, carrying us 20 years down the road.

A Bus Party

schoolbus.jpgWhat is a bus party? It is simple. All you have to do is make a few treats and a pitcher of lemonade and, at the end of the school day, park yourself by the bus stop. When the bus comes into sight, you jump up and cheer in celebration of your child completing her first day of the school year

If all of this sounds a little funny, believe me, it is! You should see my sisters, my mom, and me each year! As we shout, “Hooray! It’s the bus party!” we get a few questioning looks from the bus driver. (Come to think of it, our kids have had a new bus driver every year. Is it possible that we scare them off?) Still, these incredulous bus drivers have never turned down the brownies we have offered them through the window.

Every year, our children know to expect this bus party silliness. Though the kids look a little sheepish as they descend the steps of the bus, try as they might, they cannot hold back their laughter. Once again, demonstrative affection triumphs over embarrassment.

The bus pulls away, but we stay and eat goodies. We talk about the day, about new teachers, and about our hopes for the year to come. Best of all, we share a very special bond.

Special Memories
Though every bus party is similar, each one is also unique. Sometimes we sing silly songs, read inspirational verses together, or simply reminisce about past bus parties.

One year, it rained so hard that only my 72-year-old mother and I were brave enough to dance around in the front yard. Everyone else waited under-roof for the guests of honor to arrive. When the bus finally came, the kids dashed straight past poor Grandma to the shelter of the barn where they joined their cousins and the faithful aunts for a great celebration.

Future Bus Parties

Once upon a time there were more little ones waiting on the blanket than riding the bus. Then there were more on the bus than on the blanket. Now our wonderful high schoolers would not miss celebrating their elementary school-aged cousins’ bus party days. The celebration continues for my children: the last two of the bus party of 12!

The Deeper Truth
One thing is for sure: The children in our family have gained the confidence to venture forth on their own because they know how much they are valued at home. And here is the icing on the bus party cake: Together we have experienced a sense of community that some people may never understand. Success calls for celebration … even if it is just an ordinary day, like the first day of school.

Donna J. Noble and her husband, Darrin, are co-founders of PineCross Ministries, LLP (www.pinecrossministries.com), whose focus is hospitality and encouragement to families. She writes from PineCross Acres in Hartville, Ohio, where she and her family love to celebrate ordinary days.

Does your family have any back-to-school traditions? Leave us a comment and tell us about them!

 

Back to School

Have your kids gone back to school yet? Mine are 12 days away now. As I wrote in the August ParentLife "Parenting Matters," it seems like just yesterday our oldest, Jonathan, was starting kindergarten. Now he is a fifth grader, and our youngest, Christopher, is on his way to kindergarten!

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There are a lot of worries and fears about starting anything new — and kindergarten is a big deal! To help Christopher get ready for his first day of kindergarten, our school had a kindergarten camp. The kids got to meet their teachers, visit their new classrooms, play a few games, and even practice the afternoon hookup line. All of this was designed to cut down on first-day jitters, and I think it worked!

We have also gathered supplies like backpacks, lunch boxes, and clothes to start the school year off with excitement. We always have a routine of taking photos on the first morning of school that is a fun start to that first day.

Do you have a child starting school for the first time? Or do you have a sure fire way to cut down on first-day jitters? I would love to hear your ideas! Post a response so that other parents can read your ideas.

Read our August issue of ParentLife for all sorts of great back-to-school article and tips. Have a great beginning of the school year!