Tag Archives: parents

First day of school brings a whole set of “news”

There’s something so exciting about the first day of school…all those new things. New shoes that hurt, new teachers, new friends, new surroundings, new pencils. Wait…do they even use pencils anymore? Okay, new computers, new. Just new.

I don’t remember my first day of kindergarten, but then I hated kindergarten so I’ve probably blocked it from my mind. I didn’t especially like the first days of school until about fourth grade when I kind of accepted that summer had to end and I had to go back to school. I do remember what I wore on my first day of high school, but we won’t go there. Suffice to say that was the 70s and skirts were short.

My little cousin, Seth, starts his first day of first grade today. I’m pretty sure he’s excited and I’m pretty sure his little sisters are pretty envious. His big cousin, Lindsay, starts her first day of the second year of her PhD program today. Heck, she’s probably just as excited as Seth…if only because there are now only three years to go.

Seth and his dad bike to the first day of school

Heading into a brave new world

Seth’s parents are probably just as excited as he is. Wow. It’s a pretty amazing thing to see your child head off to school for a whole day. Seems like such a long time for such a little kid to sit. All day long, they’ll think of him. When they’re eating lunch, they’ll think of him eating his lunch. Will he eat? Will he trade his sandwich for the next guy’s?

Not everyone loves the first day. It signals the end of summer, the end of freedom. Not just for kids, but for parents. Our friends, Tim and JP, came over last night. Tim was not looking forward to the school year starting. Everyone has to be up at a specific time, the household has to run like clockwork. In a word…routine has to rule the household. Or it falls apart. But hey, Tim, you only have six more years of that before they’re all in or out of college…so enjoy it.

At the university where I work, the first day of school is just as exciting, nerve-wracking and challenging in so many new ways. College freshman have a whole slew of “news”. New home, new roommate, new foods, new fears, and for some, a whole new country.  Like those first-graders at the elementary school, college freshman have to learn to navigate a whole new system, create a new routine.

It’s not easy, this back-to-school business, especially the first day with all its firsts. But it gets easier…I think.

Honey milk balls: good-for-you sweets

Kids aren’t the only ones who balk at eating something new if you tell them it’s good for them. Adults are pretty much the same way. In fact, we (the elders) can be downright suspicious about new foods.

Of course, we like to blame that on our parents, who we claim “made” us eat cooked spinach because it tasted yummy and because it was good for us. Note to kids: This is a lie. No parent — at least none with whom I am acquainted — ever forced a child to eat cooked spinach because (a) they also did not like it; or (b) they wanted to save it all for themselves because for some unfathomable reason, they really did like it.

That brings us to liver. And yes, I do realize there is little connection between liver and spinach, aside from the fact that both are sources of iron. Most kids — no, make that most humans — do not like liver and cannot be enticed to try it no matter how many onions are smothering it.

Here’s the thing. I love liver.  In fact, I requested it for my birthday dinners, which is why my brothers were often absent those evenings. They conveniently developed the one-hour flu. Unfortunately, while liver not only is a good source of iron, it also ranks way up there on the cholesterol scale. My daughters are still thanking my doc for having discovered my high cholesterol before I subjected them to liver.

Before I lose you, let me make my point. Food should not only taste good, it should look appealing. Ah, and yes, it should have some redeeming value. About 30 years ago, I received my first copy of Doris Janzen Lonacre’s More With Less Cookbook (Herald Press). Hidden among its pages of amazing recipes is one for Honey Milk Balls.

The name itself is intriguing. Honey and milk in a ball? How is that possible since both are (somewhat) liquid forms. But they’re delicious. Kids love them. Adults love them. I was reminded of this again when I made them for my adult students. All I had to say was peanut butter and they were snatched up.

The ingredients are honey, peanut butter, powered milk and oats. That’s it. No baking, no cooking. Mix, stir and roll into little balls. Kids love to make them because kids love any reason to get their hands into something mushy. Adults not so much.

High in protein, fiber and calcium, they are actually good for you. They’re easy to make. What more could you want? Aside from a bigger bowl to make a triple recipe. Get a big one. You’re going to need it.

Honey Milk Balls
1 c. oats
1 c. powdered milk
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. honey
Mix in a large bowl (you may have to finish the mixing with your hands, which is okay because you can just lick your fingers. Form into small balls and eat. If you don’t eat them right away, store them in an airtight container.