Back to School

Back to school time: new schedules, new clothes, and new ideas and new knowledge.
Ideally, parents and kids should try to share their meals every day. Eating breakfast together may not be ideal because of the morning rush, and eating dinner together may be a bit of a challenge because of afterschool activities, but my new school year resolution is to make all mealtimes a priority.

I have decided to connect with my kids via a Love Lunch Note daily – along with a homemade lunch – to let my kids know that I am thinking about them when they are at school and I care about what they eat and how they are feeling. Nutritious and delicious foods and positive words will sustain children in all aspects of their important lives

Lunch Love Notes

Respect your peers. Respect your teachers. Respect your school.
Honor yourself!


Lunch Recipe of the Day: French Bread Pizza


12 oz French bread
½ cup marinara sauce
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
4 stalks celery
½ cup all natural light Ranch dressing
4 small bananas
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut bread in half horizontally; place on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Spread marinara sauce evenly over both halves; top evenly with cheese and Italian seasoning. Bake 10 minutes or until cheese melts and bread is crispy. Cool slightly before wrapping in aluminum foil.
Cut celery stalks into 3-inch pieces. Pack about 2 tablespoons dressing in each of 4 small containers with celery for dipping. Pack celery, dressing and bananas with pizzas

Have a Good Day!

When we start our days – often we bid our loved ones goodbye with “have a good day”, but what exactly does that mean? When I ask my kids, “How was your day”, I usually get an “OK”, or a “Fine”, but I can tell they are distracted by their thoughts or they really did not give their answer a lot of thought. Knowing that no one can control another person’s feelings or memories, as parents it is important that we teach our children to manage their own emotions via five tried and true strategies to help our children have a really good day.

1/ Get a good night’s sleep. That way the children wake up feeling fresh and energized. Sleep at least 8 hours a night. Lack of sleep can negatively influence the children’s concentration, energy, and enhance that groggy feeling during daytime hours which can negatively affect grades and peer relationships. It’s easier to go to sleep early than wake up early, so try setting your alarm for bedtime and for wakeup time.

2/ Promote good hygiene. Have the children start the day with a warm shower, and try putting their clothes in the dryer in the morning for a few minutes so they will be warm too (especially on winter days). Teach the children proper hand washing techniques, how to sneeze or cough into a “germ pocket” (crook of the elbow) rather than their hands, and tech them not to share personal items like toothbrushes, hairbrushes, and (for older girls) makeup.

3/ Eat breakfast. You have heard this before, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day- having a great breakfast means loads of energy and your children’s’ brains will function better. Remember to keep processed sugary cereals, to a minimum – choose whole grains and fresh fruit instead. Eating healthful meals and snacks throughout the day help promote good health and good moods too.

4/ Exercise. Yoga is a good form of relaxation, meditation and exercise. But any form of exercise, including walking is terrific – be sure to help your children exercise every day: take them to a local park, do an active videogame that involves sports or dancing, or sign them up for a participatory sport. The benefits of exercise are both immediate and lifelong.

5/ Smile and be kind. By teaching your children to lend a helping hand to friends, by perhaps lending them a pen or pencil, sharing a (clean) joke, or letting someone else go first during a game, can really help those around you, because if you display a sunny disposition, the people around you will feel good too, and it is hard to be sad when everyone around you is genuinely happy and helpful.

So if your children have a great day, parents do too! So go ahead, “have a great day”, today and every day!

Happy Anniversary! April is Child Abuse and Prevention Month!

Thirty years ago, in 1983, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month and as a result, child abuse and neglect awareness activities are promoted across the country during April of each year. The Children’s Bureau, within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the federal agency charged with supporting states, tribes, and communities in providing programs and services to protect children and strengthen families.

The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) within the Children’s Bureau coordinates Child Abuse Prevention Month activities at the federal level, providing information and releasing updated national statistics about child abuse and neglect. Many state governors also issue proclamations to encourage initiatives and events in their states.
These initiatives support the development, operation, and expansion of programs to prevent child abuse and neglect, as well as to coordinate the resources and activities needed to strengthen and support families to reduce the likelihood of child maltreatment.

Protective Factors:
Protective factors are features of individuals, families, communities, that when present, help increase the health and well-being of children and families.

Protective factors help parents to:
• Find resources (housing, food, childcare, medical care, school resources)
• Participate in supportive environments (parenting groups, faith centers, community centers)
• Develop coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress
• Research has shown that protective factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect:

Communities have a great influence in families’ lives and livelihoods Communities that are supportive of families have:
• Safe, affordable housing available
• Availability of wage earing jobs and economic development
• Parks and recreation facilities that are accessible, safe, and inviting places for families
• Resources to help families in need access food, shelter, medical care, and other resources
• Early education programs for preschool aged children
• Clean air and water

Helpful Hints:
To have a supportive community parents can:
• Meet and greet the neighbors.
• Go to a parents meeting at your child’s school.
• Participate in an activity at your local library or community center
• Join a playgroup in your community at homes or a local park
• Volunteer at your child’s school through the school’s administration or the parents’ organization.
• Encourage local service providers to produce a directory of available services in the community.
• Organize a community event (a block party, father/daughter dance, parent support group).
• Coach a youth sports team, or be a scout leader, for example.
• Attend local government meetings (city council school board meetings) and let them know how important resources are in your community. Let them know how parks, strong schools, and accessible services help to strengthen your family and other families.

Advocacy and outreach make communities more supportive of families and helps prevent child abuse and neglect!

Lunch Love Notes – Kindness

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I met my third grader at her school and we shared our lunch. Over sandwiches and cookies, I got to meet some of her little buddies and express, with my “surprise” presence, how very much she means to me. Spending time sharing a meal and conversation is one of life’s simplest and most profound pleasures. Talking and laughing while enjoying a thoughtfully prepared foods is essential for both the body and the spirit.  Almost any good time that comes to my mind involves food, and I am committed to making mostly happy memories for me and my family at mealtime.

Lunch Love Notes

Introducing Lunch Love Notes – a way parents can check in on their children over a meal even when they are not sitting at the table together. Sample meal plans, courtesy of eMeals, will help parents keep lunch meals healthful and fun.   The virtue of the week will help parents the creative spark to write notes and communicate with their children when they are having lunch at school.

 Lunch Meal Ideas:  Purchase, Prepare, Pack it up, Put in a Lunch Love Note

 Grilled Cheese, Black Bean and Corn Salsa and Tortilla Chips


4 teaspoons butter, softened

8 slices hearty  bread of choice

1 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican blend cheese

1 cup corn and bean salsa

4 cups baked tortilla chips

8 oz strawberries, halved


Butter 1 side of each slice of bread. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place 2 slices bread, butter side down, in skillet;sprinkle each with ¼ cup cheese. Top with 2 slices bread, butter side up. Cook 2 minutes or until golden. Flip and cook until golden and cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining bread and cheese. Wrap in foil.

Pack it Up:

Divide salsa among 4 containers. Pack salsa, chips and strawberries with sandwiches.

Put in a Note: – Virtue of the week:  Kindness

Remember to smile; your random act of kindness will make someone’s day

Lend a helping hand; understanding people pass kindness along

Tell a clever joke; improve the mood through kindness, share smiles and laughter

Draw me a picture; it is worth a thousand words, a special story

Talk to someone new; say hello and make new friends, share your laughter




Family Meals Wish List

Every parent has a dream for their children and most wishes revolve around their children being healthy with laughter to cheer, those you love near,
and all their heart might desire.

The foundation of health starts with a nutritious diet – and it is my goal is to make sure that all kids start eating healthy right from the start.  If you want to make healthy and delicious meals, they must have the ingredients on hand,

Check out the family wish list compliments of emeals,  so the next time you go to the grocery store, some of  your basic wishes can come true while preparing and sharing meals together.


Simply put the list on the fridge, and check the list on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to keep your kitchen organized and you family’s tummies (and heart’s desires) satisfied.

Random Acts of Kindness

As my children are growing older (18, 15, 8) I sometimes wonder what they will remember about their childhoods?  They have had all of the basics provided for them, plus they have had  lots of opportunities to improve themselves via extracurricular lessons  and sports. They always have lots of friends to play with, and all have bright futures on the horizon.  Yet it seems like I hear a complaint about something that is out of my control almost every day.  But since I don’t control my children’s memories (or anyone else’s but my own for that matter), working on building a relationship with my children, maintaining a purposeful connection to them, sharing interests, and having sincere communication, is a time-consuming endeavor!  How can parents expect to work full-time, take care of household duties and community responsibilities, and keep the constant attention of their kids?  It is possible through random acts of kindness!

The philosopher Lao Tzu said:

Kindness in words creates confidence; Kindness in deeds creates profoundness; Kindness in giving creates love.

According to a recent segment published on NPR, by Nancy Shute, as part of an experiment, researchers in British Columbia asked 9 to 11 year-olds in many classrooms to perform three acts of kindness each week. The acts of kindness were simple. The children gave their parents hugs, shared their lunches, or vacuumed the floor. Being part of the experiment made kindness intentional. The children had to plan their acts of kindness, and remember to do them. Similar experiments in adults have shown that being actively kind increases happiness, and happier people then become more likely to help others.

I thought to myself – can I teach my children to perform an act of kindness for someone every day?

Yes I can, and here are but a few ideas…

  • Say hello to someone you see all the time, but don’t know their name.
  • Eat lunch with someone new.
  • Write a personal note or email to a friend for no reason.
  • Rake some leaves or pull weeds for an elderly neighbor.
  • Instead of just thinking it, make a sincere compliment to someone.
  • Ask someone “how are you?” mean it, and listen.
  • Bake some cookies for your neighbor (and yourself).
  • Hug your loved ones for no particular reason.
  • Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
  • Offer someone else your seat on the bus.
  • Pick up wrappers at the park.
  • Read to a child.
  • Smile :)

Intentionally being kind everyday reinforces happy feelings, and happy people tend to get along better with their peers, and are more successful in school and in the workplace.  By helping children be mindful about performing kind acts, even when they don’t “feel like it” allows children to receive positive reinforcement from family, friends, and strangers. These actions make for happy memories.


Penalty Flags

The holidays are over – weeks of food, fun and festivities, with family, friends,  and football. As exciting as it is to see all of the lights and sights of the season, true fans look forward to the holiday bowl games as much as they do the holiday presents.

Watching football for the umpteenth time, I really noticed in a novel way that in addition to their whistles, referees have another special tool: the penalty yellow flags!  Penalty flags maintain order on the field while encouraging players to follow the established rules of the game.   This routine got me thinking – what if parents used yellow penalty flags to get their kids’ attention?  As a substitute for  yelling at kids for their bad behavior, it would be so cool for parents to instead  just throw down a yellow flag and name the violation,  then  impose a standard penalty,  before returning to play.


  • Delay of Game: When the ball is not snapped before the play clock expires
  • Penalty:  5 yards


  • Delay of Routine: When the child or teen is not ready for the bus or carpool in a timely way
  • Penalty:  5 minute early start


  • Holding: When a player uses his hands to grab onto an opponent
  • Penalty: 10 yards


  • Holding: When a child uses his or her hands to grab a toy from another instead of a request
  • Penalty: 10 minute time out


  • Personal Foul: When a player intentionally commits a serious foul
  • Penalty: 15 yards


  • Personal Foul: When a child intentionally disobeys a rule
  • Penalty: Restriction of privilege


  • Unnecessary Roughness: When a player hit a player after the ball is out of play
  •  Penalty: 15 yards


  • Unnecessary Roughness: Verbal or physical fighting
  • Penalty: Time out and loss of privileges

Toddlers, children, and teens will occasional challenge or test adult expectations and authority – it is the nature of growing up. Sometimes, children choose to misbehave in order to gain something – attention or peer approval – and this behavior is also normal. However kids of all ages should know breaking rules and chronic misbehavior should not be without consequences. Discipline is how children learn right from wrong and acceptable behavior from unacceptable actions. Modeling and enforcing appropriate discipline is one of the most essential responsibilities of a parent, for providing consistent and positive discipline helps children grow into responsible adults.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, for discipline techniques to be most effective, they must occur in the context of a relationship in which children feel loved and secure. When advising families about discipline strategies, pediatricians use a comprehensive approach that includes consideration of the parent–child relationship, reinforcement of desired behaviors, and consequences for negative behaviors. Parents’ responses to children’s behavior, whether approving or disapproving, are likely to have the greatest effect on children’s behavior because the parents’ approval is important to the children.


  • Consistent discipline: Enforce your house rules like a referee
  • The goal: The love and respect of  your well-behaved children.