Nutrients Pint-Sized Learners Need More of

Happy October! It’s Ben here and it seems it’s been about 2 years since my last post. It’s always our intention for me to share more in this space, but life gets busy, and Ruby is just faster at this blog thing than I am.

Most children have been back to school for about a month now, and following are a few tips on nutrients our children need to prepare them well for those busy school days…

Plan meals and snacks that best prepare kids for the classroom

Brain, the spinal frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Energize. It’s mission: to supply the nutrients needed to help your child’s attention and memory, to perform better in school, to boldly grow like many other healthy students have done before.

We don’t need to be fans of the show to picture this imaginary scenario in our kids’ bodies… the “starship Energize” whisking around to the tune of the eerie theme song, supplying fuel, vitamins and minerals needed to maximize the brain’s capacity. And while it doesn’t happen quite like that, the truth is that our children’s brains do need necessary nutrition for concentration and academic achievement.

I’m givin’ her all she’s got, Captain!
(Captain Kirk’s response to that? “All she’s got isn’t good enough! What else ya got?”) Research continues to show that when children aren’t receiving the fuel (glucose!) and nutrition they need, correlations can be made to lower grades, absenteeism, and an inability to focus.

Glucose is the fuel that keeps the brain functioning. Children burn through glucose faster than adults—children aged 4-10 double the rate of adults (the pace shrinks down to adult levels by the time they’re 16-18 years of age) *1. Combine this higher glucose usage rate with a longer fasting period overnight (increased sleep requirements), and breakfast becomes, well, the most important meal of the day.

Furthermore, diets deficient in vitamins and minerals are associated with lower grades among students *2. Studies also show diets with inadequate fruits, vegetables and dairy products negatively impact academic performance *2.

Beam, er, eat us up Scotty
So the message is clear about nutrition’s vital role in our children’s learning… breakfast is indispensable, glucose is essential, vitamin- and mineral-rich foods are needed. OK. Glucose isn’t the name of some globular space invader… it’s actually something required by our brains. So how does all this nutrition information compute in the real world?

Balanced meals are one of the keys to obtain steady glucose and adequate vitamins and minerals. A straightforward way of thinking of balance is through USDA’s MyPlate icon. Glucose will be an eventual (eventual is good; too fast isn’t) byproduct of carbohydrates, which come from four of the six groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, and milk. (Choose minimally processed foods for all groups; this will aid in glucose becoming that eventual byproduct). The two remaining groups: protein (lean sources hopefully), and fats/oils (not pictured on the plate, but healthful ones ideally).

Following are breakfast foods to mix-n-match for balance, as you plug them into MyPlate; examples follow. Make the mother ship proud! (More breakfast ideas here; snack ideas here.)

Grains: oatmeal; whole grain cereal, toast, tortillas, whole grain English muffins
Fruit/Vegetables: seasonal and whole; dried/canned – no sugar/minimal salt added; frozen; dried
Milk: skim/1% from the cow, soybean, or almond; light yogurt
Protein: beans, eggs, Canadian bacon, Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, nut/seed butters, (ex: old fashioned-style peanut butter)

Live long and prosper
To feel confident declaring this phrase as it applies to balanced meals (while giving the Vulcan salute!), there is one, non-food ingredient that is key: planning ahead. Without planning, breakfast and snacks either become (a) non-existent, or (b) highly processed, low-nutrition convenience foods fumbled into the diet’s atmosphere.

Planning ahead involves:
• Having a variety of brain-boosting foods ready to fit your abilities and your schedule. Even if your mornings are filled with meteor shower-like craziness, plan around that! Switching it up is also important for kids since they’re not droids; a constellation of possibilities is fun!
• Thoughtful purchases in that Milky Way of a grocery store. Our role as parents involves the “what,” as in what is served. There will be a domino effect of what you do or don’t select at the market; make it a positive one!
• Ensuring kids have a bedtime early enough to enable sufficient time to eat something in the morning. (And more time could lead to the entire family eating breakfast; family meals have a mass of research to support their importance!)

Our children’s brains need balanced nutrition to give birth to all the brilliant supernovas waiting to ignite. And before launch, we as parents need to make preparations in our internal mission control centers. Changes like these take time… don’t expect warp speed. Experiment. Be patient!

*1. Chugani H. T. (1998). A critical period of brain development: studies of cerebral glucose utilization with PET. Prev. Med. 27, 184–188 10.



flower pot costume

Flower Pot Costume

Petal template
Leaf template
4-5 sheets of felt for the flower petals
4 sheets of green felt for the leaves
Coordinating embroidery floss
2 poster boards, brown or gold for pot
Duct tape
Thick ribbon, for pot
1/4″ ribbon (or yarn), to string through the petals
Hand sewing needle

1.Cut out your flower petals from the felt. I used 14 flower petals for our headpiece, but the amount you use may differ based on the head size of the costume wearer.

2. Cut a 1 1/2″ slit at the base of the petal, overlap the ends together, fold back, and sew it in place. Repeat with each petal piece. This creates the panel to string your ribbon through for the flower head bonnet.

3. String your thin ribbon through each petal, add a 8″ extra on each end (so the ribbon can tie under the chin), then cut.

4. Cut out your pot shape from each poster board. Yours may be different based on the size you want for the costume wearer.

5. Cut out 2-15″ pieces of the thicker ribbon, place on desired spot on the inside of the poster board pot, about 6″ apart, and tape in place. May need to be adjusted based on the costume wearer and how low you want it to hang.

6. Cut out your leaves and sew two pieces together using a running stitch all the way around, but be sure to keep the base of the leaves open, so you can insert hands. If desired, add a decorative stitch along the middle of the leaves.

Put on the pot, tie the flower bonnet on (I used bobby pins to secure the petals in place), and put on the leave gloves. Another tip is to pull the felt petal to help it stick out a bit and not be so floppy.

I can’t believe it’s October and the girls have been plotting our Halloween costumes for this year. We have a lot of costume crafting to do; I can’t wait to see it all come together. Have you decided what to dress up as for Halloween?

This post is part of the Michaels Makers Series. Whether you’re into spooky sights, playful pumpkins or giggling ghouls, Michaels is your Boo-It-Yourself Halloween Headquarters and has tons of ideas for DIY costumes and décor.

 Loading InLinkz ...

glow’s 5th birthday breakfast in bed

I think I’m going to get kicked out of birthday breakfast duty because Ben totally knocked it out of the park for Glow’s 5th birthday. I was at the Michaels Makers Summit on her birthday, (we celebrated right before I left) and based on what Ben produced, I think he should be taking over blog duties.

Clearly, you can see that Glow very much loved her little spread. Of course, her favorite part was Yoda made from a pear. A PEAR! My man has skillz. Yes, with a z. I had no clue what he was going to do and when I got his text in the morning, I was in awe. He’ll never say it, but he is one creative dude, and with the busyness of life, I rarely get to see him exercise his creativity. Maybe I need to go on trips more often because clearly he can definitely do this Mr. Mom gig (it just may take him longer to get things done).

Our new five year old was quite a chipper gal with her stack of pancakes, fancy cereal, and Yoda.

How to make Yoda with a Bartlett pear:
With a paring knife, cut out the nose and reattach; carve a spaceholder to insert a “stem smile;” use dried black eyed peas for the eyes; and harvest the ears from another pear before inserting them into the head with toothpicks (we were out of toothpicks so used the ends of wooden skewers). Done.



‘tudes and tantrums

Tuesday was rough. I got ‘tudes and tantrums all day long. I’ve been asking God to help me abound in thanksgiving, while trying to lovingly lead the girls to repentance (not always great at this). I’m looking forward to a new day, where there are new mercies and more opportunities to point the kids (and myself) to gospel and grace. I may not always be abounding in thanksgiving, but grace certainly abounds all the more.


michaels makers summit at carmel valley ranch

I had no clue how the Michaels team would top last year’s summit, but they certainly did. The backdrop this year was at the gorgeous Carmel Valley Ranch, and I was not prepared for how amazing it was all going to be. The moment I stepped into my room, which had a living room, two televisions, fireplace in my bedroom, and a balcony overlooking deer and wild turkey roaming around… I was in hotel heaven. Immediately, I felt a little guilty that I was enjoying this without Ben and the girls, so I tried to convince them to drive up, but he said, “You need this break, just enjoy it.” So enjoy it I did! I went to sleep every night under the soft glow of the fireplace (it turned off by itself after two hours) and I came home wishing my bedroom had a fire place too.

In addition to the location being pretty heavenly, they made sure to pack our days with lots of inspiring classes and delicious meals. We took mixed media, shibori dyeing, cricut, wood burning (where I burned my arm and have a permanent scar), watercolor, jewelry making, tablescape creating, and macrame. My fave classes were mixed media with Jane Davenport and macrame with Annabel Wrigley. Then, there was the food. Oh the food! Yes, the main dishes were excellent, but I really miss the churros drizzled with dulce de leche, crème brûlée, and chocolate mousse cake. I’m a sweets gal all the way (and yes, I’m married to a dietitian too). Also, I loved the gorgeous styling at each meal. All of it was simply divine.

And yes, Sarah Michelle Gellar was there to share about her making journey with her family and Food Stirs. My high school self was freaking out inside because I so wanted to be Buffy (and was in love with Angel).

Not only was it nice to get spoiled a bit, but it was so great to nerd out with other makers. Part of the fun is meeting other makers and learning about what they specialize in. You had paper flower artists, party planners, hand lettering artists, painters, interior designers, fiber artists, jewelry designers, and the variety of specialties could go on and on. We were all joined together because we have a love for making. Sure, what we make might not always come out perfect, but it’s the whole process of creating that is so enjoyable. I added some new friends to Instagram and love that I get to continue watching their creative journey.

On the last day, I got to explore the ranch a bit and went for a guide-led nature hike. It was a perfect end to a wonderful craft-cation. I came home super inspired to teach the girls some new making techniques, but we’ll probably skip the wood burning.

Thank you Michaels for such an beautiful Michaels Makers event and I’m definitely inspired to keep on making!


FM Skyscraper and Popular Post Table


ms. tips   lotta

FM Badge