Back to School – Back to Lunch Packing

Just about a week or two before school begins, I start to look forward to my kids getting out of the house (or my hair) and into a routine again. I crave the routine too, but not all of the obligations that go with it. The one I dread the most is packing lunches everyday for both my sons. It’s not only the chore of it, but it’s the pressure to come up with a variety of lunches so they don’t get “lunch burn out” by Thanksgiving. And I won’t cave to letting them buy school lunches until Jamie Oliver is the personal chef at my son’s school, so that’s not an option.

I’d like to share with you a simple idea I came up with that my son thinks is awesome. Now if your child is GF/CF, you’d have to come up with alternatives to replace the gluten and casein in my idea. I’m sure you have seen, heard, or perhaps bought Lunchables for kids. I happen to think its a genius of an idea for kids that are sick of sandwiches, but of course the packaged food industry takes a simple idea and adds a ton of crap to it. I don’t like any product that Kraft puts on the supermarket shelf. Even Lunchables “healthy” alternatives like their ones with fruit and 100% fruit Capri Sun has a ton of sugar and sodium in it, plus artificial colors, flavors and enough preservatives to choke a horse (has several plus that nasty one BHT), high fructose corn syrup, and American Cheese. American Cheese is not cheese in my opinion and it’s pretty gross. So I put together a clean Lunchables version for my kids.

Homemade Lunchables:

  • Crackers (your kids’ healthy, favorite choice)
  • Cheddar Cheese (rBST hormone free dairy) sliced in 2″ squares
  • Canadian Bacon (try to find a brand that is nitrite free)
  • Green/red grapes
  • 2 cookies (I like Trader Joe’s brands without all the artificial stuff, or no cookies if your child is sugar-free)
  • Water

Now this is enough food for my 9-year-old but I do have to add more to the lunch for my eating machine 13-year-old. As for the cracker choice, read the ingredient labels and try to find one that is organic and GMO free. That’s a tough one to find when it comes to grains.

As for more ideas other than sandwiches, I’ve also switched out the Canadian bacon for slices of turkey. My youngest also loves hard-boiled eggs so I give him that with the crackers sometimes too. As you see here, my goal is to get healthy proteins in my kids at lunch without filling them up with a ton of carbs that will slow their brain down in the class after lunch. Protein will convert to the necessary neurotransmitters dopamine for cognition: focus and attention. Plus give them energy for the rest of their afternoon.

What healthy lunch ideas do you pack for school?

Summer is over?! But it’s only mid-August!

I have had a crazy, busy, summer this year and have not found time to blog all summer long. I miss it. My kids go back to school next week on August 17th and that marks the official end of summer for them. Where did the time go? Well, mine and my son with autism’s time went to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). We had to get 40 sessions in this summer without taking breaks longer than 3 days. Our days have been spent in a big metal tube, watching DVDs (I read a book) and driving back and forth for an hour each way. I’ll blog about our experience next time.

Right now, I’m still trying to get my head around “back-to-school”. I have to confess. I’m in denial. We have not bought one iota of school supplies, clothes, backpacks…oh, the stress of doing this the day before school starts! See, we are cramming in the last of HBOT sessions this week and then leaving on a much needed family vacation to a mountain lake for 5 days of camping. It was that, or stay home and prepare for school by dragging some unhappy (whinny) boys from store to store. Nope! I opted to procrastinate.

You may wonder how my son with autism will feel about my lack of preparing him for the start of school. Well, we will find out on August 17th. Yes, sometimes parents of children with autism have to “wing it” and just see how their child adapts. I believe he needs to be exposed to the unexpected by not being front-loaded with information all the time. Sometimes going off the therapy curriculum is OK so your child can see that life isn’t always carefully planned out, prepped and non-stressful.  My son is very high functioning and he can deal with these unexpected things thrown at him most of the time, so it may not be for every child on the spectrum. I’m just putting it out there for all parents with kids on the spectrum to consider trying at least once in a while; especially if they’ve always controlled their child’s environment.

My summer can’t be over. It hasn’t really started yet, so I’m going to have to enjoy mine starting August 17th. Am I the only one out there that hasn’t had a “summer” yet?

Back to School, Back to Routine

The last two weeks of school, parents count down the days till summer break with fervor!  Then come the final two weeks of summer break and they are excitedly counting the days before school begins again!  That’s me in a nutshell.  Yes, I intentionally used the word “nut” shell because my sons are driving me nuts right about now. Arguing, nitpicking, whining, and just plain bored. (My sons that is.)

I pity the teachers that have to corral the kids back into routines. But routine is what my son with autism needs, craves and thrives on. This is the first time since he started school that he is echoing his big brother’s sentiments about “I don’t want school to start!”. How neuro-typical of him. (smile)

Just this past June, he was sad that school was ending and that he will miss learning and his friends. Yes, he actually said that! But it only took him eight (LONG) weeks with his big brother to start picking up his habits, sayings and general silly nonsense.

I long for and dread the bedtime curfews, homework routine, and schedule we will get back on. As most of you with kids on the spectrum understand, our kiddos need structure and a schedule. They feel anxious and uncertain without it. I’d be lost without my schedule listed all neat and orderly on my iPhone. So how are our kids any different?

My son with autism used to NEED to know what was going to happen every day. Now, he’s much less anxious and more curious and aware in wanting to understand what’s expected of him each day. Biomedical treatments and behavior therapy has helped him with this tremendously. In school he learned how to read a calendar, and the concept of first, next, then and last, which was tremendously helpful for him.

Routine is good. Better yet, routine with a curve-ball throw at him sometimes is better. It’s helping him adapt to our world and not stay so rigid in his. I let him choose where he wants to be picked up after school (valet or walk to front) so he has not only a sense of control in his life but also to work with him on remembering where he is to go. If he decides, he remembers every time.

He begins second grade this year and I can’t believe how fast he is growing and catching up in development. He has a wonderful team at the school and the best teachers that make it possible for him to be mainstreamed without an aide in the classroom. He’s your typical seven-year-old boy. Laughs at YouTube videos, plays with friends, fights with his brother and thinks expressing himself is burping and farting. How blessed we are.

He’s not quite back into the routine of school yet. It’s only his second day. Given time, patience and gentle reminders he’ll be just fine. My dog on the other hand, is despondent and bored now that the house is quiet again. He’ll eventually get use to the back to school routine too.

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