400 Trips to Ikea Later… Preschool Classroom Reveal

Setting Up the Preschool Classroom - GREAT ideas!!

See this room?

It is my new home.

It has literally eaten up my entire life in the span of a few short weeks. :-)

I teach all morning, work in the afternoon for the school’s front office, and then take my boys home to feed them the same thing for the 3rd night in a row and then fall into a coma of exhaustion.

The other day I was like, “Blog?  What blog????”

My mother-in-law wisely told me (when I called her crying about this dramatic life change) to lower my expectations for the next month and hold on for the adjustment.

But tonight was Back to School Night with all my new parents and I am still awake and completely wired from having had conversation that did not involve me telling someone to stop throwing sand or did they go poopy?  And because I know you’re all sitting around wondering why I haven’t posted in an eon, I decided to send a little note and let you know that full-time work did not kill me off.

Although on Thursday last week it almost did.

But oh how I love my sweet new students and their families!

And how much fun it has been to see them enjoying our little space that took 400 trips to Ikea and 75% of my entire year’s budget to set up. :-)

Before I show you the after photos, however, I wanted to give you a peek at the before photos!classroom BEFORE 2 classroom BEFORE 1 classroom BEFORE

When I first started teaching the 2’s last year I was in a different classroom that I shared with another teacher.

This year I was moved to a new room that has been kind of infamous around the school as having a funky, narrow/crowded shape.

But the Lord gave me great peace and excitement for the project of creating a space of my own.  I also loved looking to Him for some out-of-the-box ideas to help make the room feel large and accommodating for such a busy age.

I’m so happy with the results…

**Warning – PICTURE OVERLOAD.**classroom 22classroom 3

This is our Circle Time area and main bulletin board for learning.

In the 2 year old class, we focus on a specific Bible memory verse, a shape, a color, and a number for the entire month.

We celebrate the calendar and weather every day as well.

I bought an oil drip pan from Walmart for $11 and use it as a magnet wall for the children.

The school buses on the pan are how I take attendance each morning.  We sing THIS SONG and then the children get to put their bus on the wall.

classroom 4Even though they can’t read yet, I like to post a schedule of our daily activities and I talk about it throughout the day with them.

They get really excited about Goodbyes because it means MOMMY TIME!

I found these adorable schedule cards as a FREE Printable from HERE.

classroom 19These are our classroom rules.

I refer to them 100 million times a day during the first month of school.classroom 16classroom desk

This is my desk.

It is so cute, but when you teach preschoolers, you NEVER ever get to use it!  Haha!classroom 17

We spend a lot of time at that changing table.

And those cabinets are overflowing with important preschool supplies like googly eyes and Glue Dots and Do-A-Dot Markers and every color of pipe cleaner you could possibly imagine.

classroom 2

I have all of my parents send in photos of their families so that I can display them for the children to visit throughout the day.

I like that they can stay connected with their loved ones even when they are apart!classroom 1

I believe I need to budget for more puzzles.

:-)classroom 5classroom 6classroom 7classroom 9

I love to label things.

It is a tremendous help at clean-up time.

You wouldn’t believe the hurricane this room becomes when we are focused on our play.

The only reason the classroom looks so awesome at the moment is because I had to get it in tip top shape for Back to School Night. :-)

classroom 18

I saw a great idea on Pinterest to use cheap picture frames for all the mandatory policy things (firedrill, lockdown, procedures, etc.).

classroom 8classroom 10

Dramatic play is SO encouraged in our room!

Today two of my girls dressed up in gowns and informed me that they were going on an adventure.

Also, 2 year olds love to put stuff in things so I like to have lots of purses, bags and baskets on hand.classroom 12

This is our train table and rice/water table.

That rice table is a ton of fun but a BEAST to clean up.classroom 11classroom 21

Over the train table is our Birthday Bulletin Board (idea from HERE).

During the first week of school the children decorate some birthday crowns that I purchase from Michael’s.

Then they get to wear the crowns on their birthday, of course.  It generates so much anticipation for their special day!

As you can see, we have already celebrated one little girl.classroom 13

This is our kitchen area where the kids cook me 10 course meals about 7 times a day.

If one of them grows up to be the next Julia Child or Emeril, I will make sure everyone knows that they got their start in PreK-2 with Mrs. B.

I like to hang mirrors in my room because the children just love to look at themselves while they are exploring.

The other morning we all stood in front of the mirrors and practiced our silly faces.

Then I glanced out our classroom door window and saw a parent peeking in to watch.

I’m sure they were having second thoughts about their child’s enrollment.cute classroom

And there it is.

This room where even if it didn’t have any toys or decorations or paraphernalia from Ikea, would still have the Holy Spirit.

And that’s really all that matters to me anyway -

That my students know Jesus and His absolutely perfect, unfailing, and precious love for them.

Not where my desk lamps are from.

I hope you like it!

Happy Preschool Classroom Reveal-ing! :-)

How to Handle Separation Anxiety in the Classroom

how to handle separation anxiety in the classroom (great tips for parents too!)

*Photo by 1313 Photography*

When I started teaching again I landed a position in the preschool department – teaching 2 year olds.

I thought – Hey!  I’m the mom of a 2 year old!  We’ll sing songs, change diapers, get stickers, take a nap…  This will be CAKE.

:-)

Then the first day happened and I had 50% of my little class crying hysterically – completely undone by the fact that they couldn’t be with their mamas (and I seriously could not blame them).

**If you had seen the emotional state of my classroom on the first day last year you would have wanted to be with your mother too.**

Did you know some kids can cry so hard they throw up?

Did you know some kids get aggressive and try to kick you?

Talk about getting thrown in the deep end.

As soon as pick-up time was over (and after I got done crying, myself), I made it my personal mission to be prepared with EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE trick in the book to talk a toddler down off the ledge of an emotional CRISIS.

And I have 8 NEW precious kiddos coming to my room on Tuesday so I need to be prepared for what’s coming.

((Hopefully what’s coming involves smiles and giggles instead of me ending the day with hearing loss and in the fetal position.))

  • PREP the parents in advance.  I send a letter home about separation anxiety before school begins.  You can find it HERE.  Getting parents on board with you is CRITICAL to helping develop a successful classroom routine and atmosphere.
  • Don’t let parents linger.  A quick good-bye is best!
  • Sing a song (start with the Wheels on the Bus and If You’re Happy and You Know It and go from there).
  • Blow bubbles together (it’s hard to cry when also trying to blow into something).
  • Let the child bring in a lovey or photo of their family from home to keep in their cubby.  I like how THIS LADY has a special shelf for framed photos of her students’ families.
  • Acknowledge the child’s feelings.  Say, “You miss your mommy,” then follow up with, “You will see her soon.”
  • Read books like The Kissing Hand or Llama, Lllama Misses Mama or Bye Bye Time that deal with the concept of being away from parents.
  • Hold the child and slowly count to 10 together.
  • Post a visual schedule in your room so the children can see how close they are to being with their mommies (or other caregiver) again.
  • ACT CONFIDENT – stay calm.  Keep your voice happy and upbeat.  If you start to feel otherwise, just imagine me looking you in the eye and saying, “You got this, girl!”
  • Give student a squishy ball or pom pom and let them put it in their pocket and squeeze it whenever they feel anxious.
  • Hang in there – it might take several weeks to build trust and rapport with the children.
  • Put on a fun CD and dance.
  • Make sure parents say goodbye before they leave – sneaking out is not helpful.
  • Don’t spend a lot of emotional energy on the anxious child – be loving and reassuring, but carry out daily plans as usual.  Occasionally give child a gentle pat on the head.  Eventually they should see that everyone else (including you) is having fun and they should too!
  • Give the child a calm down glitter jar.
  • Never send a crying child home – this reinforces the idea that if they cry, they will get their way.
  • With that said, keep in mind that some young children (especially 2-3 year olds) might not be ready for school yet.  Make sure you discuss this possibility with your school’s headmaster and the parents in extreme situations.
  • If other kids complain about the noisy child, encourage classroom unity by saying something like, “So-and-so is missing his mommy.  He needs a little extra time to learn how school works.  Let’s show him how much fun school is!”
  • Bring out a puppet.
  • Go outside and play with chalk or a water table.
  • Make that student a special helper – give him/her a specific task like setting out the puzzles, hanging up name cards, or passing out the crayons.
  • Have an established routine like a special hello song you can sing at the same time each morning – familiarity breeds comfort.
  • Pull out a pinwheel.
  • Have a basket of ‘back-up’ lovies (small stuffed animals, vibrating baby toys, etc.) for the children to hold.
  • Make sure you have a helper in your room the first week (if you do not already).
  • Tell them that you miss your mommy too and follow up with something positive like, “I’m so proud of you for being such a big boy/girl and coming to hang out with me today!”
  • See if Daddy can drop off the child instead of Mommy.
  • Reassure the parent!  Say things like, “This is TOTALLY normal.  Don’t worry about a thing!  We are going to have a great day!”
  • Have a Cuddle Bear Chair – set up a small chair with a stuffed bear.  Allow sad children to sit in the chair with the bear and tell the bear their problems.
  • Try using these cute No Cry GoodBye Punch Cards from HERE.
  • Suggest parents make a Family Photo Book like THIS ONE or a Family Necklace like THIS ONE for their child to bring to class.
  • Have the parent draw a heart on the child’s hand like THIS.
  • Make a Kiss Box.
  • Play with SHAVING CREAM (this is such irresistible fun!).

Even with all the tricks, I still had a student that cried every. single. morning he came to school.

For the entire year.

On the morning of the last day I gripped the steering wheel and prayed in the car, “Lord?  Could I just have one day?  PLEASE?”

And sure enough – on the last day of school this precious little boy did not cry.

So maybe that is our biggest tool when it comes to teaching children who struggle with separation anxiety -

PRAYER.

And possibly a nice glass of Merlot.

:-)

- Julie

Easy Teacher Gift for the First Day of School

easy back to school teacher gift

Eeeeeeek!

I start school tomorrow!

I cannot even believe it.  I will be working full-time, ladies.  Full-time.

I am fairly certain that I will never have time to make dinner, clean the house, or pluck my eyebrows again.

But I am really excited about my new class of 2-year-olds and my new classroom has been coming along nicely (more on that to come!).  I have been praying for my precious students by name for the last 2 weeks.

As the Back to School season fast approaches and your little ones are getting their school supplies, new backpacks, and lunch boxes ready, here’s a little extra something to help you remember the new teacher on the first day.

:-)

easy back to school gift for the teacherPrint the FREE Printable tag (see below) and attach a cute little nail polish bottle with a Glue Dot or double-sided tape.

**I found these adorable little nail polishes by elf at Target.**

Teachers like to have nice nails while they’re grading papers.

((Makes things more interesting!))

Or I suppose if you are a preschool teacher like me, we like to have nice nails while we are playing with Play-Doh and changing dirty diapers.

:-)

CLICK HERE for your FREE Printable Back to School Teacher Gift Tag!

Happy Back to School Teacher Gift-ing!

*You can find more easy Back to School Teacher Gift Ideas HERE.*

Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes Review and GIVEAWAY!

The other day a friend of mine said, “Julie, I don’t understand.  You wrote a post about not doing selfies and then now all you are posting is selfies.”

Oh dear.

These are the kind of comments that make me either 1. Want to cry, quit blogging and get out from under the microscope of the whole wide world, or 2. Laugh and say, “But they’re completely selfless selfies!”

Which, I assure you they are – all in the name of helping you build a happy home.

:-)

But just so you don’t judge me for it, let me give you a warning – this post features me again.

And let me be clear that I am totally and completely NOT looking for shout-outs about how beautiful I am.

On the contrary, I will probably be making you all feel better about the size of your pores once this is over – as I could not find a blemish edit circle big enough to help this fairy out.

Plus, I had to put the photos in black and white just to make it easier on your eyes.

Speaking of eyes…

My friend, Marci, shared an amazing new product with me that I had to let y’all know about it!

I’ve never really been one to dream about having longer eyelashes (fake ones are too expensive and laborious for this busy mama), but once Marci showed me how these 3D Fiber Lashes from her company Younique work, I was totally sold.

How fun is this?

Before -

younique 3(Totally lame lashes)

After -

younique 4*Wooooohooooo!  Date night!*

youniqueyounique2This product comes in a beautiful case with one tube of Transplanting Gel and one tube of these amazing Natural Fibers that are taken straight from Green Tea.

(Gotta love that not only are you rocking great lashes, but you can feel good about the ingredients, too.)

It’s totally crazy – the little fibers adhere to your lashes and add great length and fullness.

For application, all you have to do is put on the Gel like you would regular mascara, then put on the fibers, then another quick coating of gel to seal the deal.

younique 5And BAM.

You better go find your husband and give him your best ‘come hither’ look – ‘cuz girl, those lashes are bringin’ it!

;-)

Interested???  You can purchase this incredible product as well as other fabulous make-up products HERE.

((I should check and see if Younique sells something for my pores???)) :-)

Guess what?!

Marci is SO sweet she is GIVING AWAY a FREE set of Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes (a $29 value) here at Happy Home Fairy!!

Would you like to create shock and awe on your next date night???

Here’s what you need to do -

Step 1 – ‘Like’ Marci’s Younique Facebook Page by clicking HERE.

Step 2 – Leave a comment below letting me know you ‘liked’ Marci’s page as well as your name and email address.

**Tell all your friends!**

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (apologies to my sweet international readers).  The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Thursday, August 7th (EST).  A winner will be randomly selected shortly after and notified by e-mail.

Happy Younique-ing! :-)

*I was given this product at no cost in exchange for a review.  All opinions are 100% mine.

How To Manage a Mommy Meltdown (Without a Trip to Target)

Managing a Mommy Meltdown - I need this for those tough days!!!Let me paint a picture of something we are all familiar with.

You’ve been up with someone all night long.

And that someone was probably either throwing up, pooping, or wanting to suck on your boob every 5 minutes.

The sun finally peeks over the horizon and your other children are now awake and demanding food, squeezing toothpaste all over the countertops, and bringing out every toy in their closets.

Someone gets hurt climbing on the couch.

Siblings argue over the the last waffle.

The How-to-Homeschool book you recently bought is gathering dust on the counter.

You check Facebook in between kissing booboos, wiping up syrup spills, and throwing your hair in a messy bun and you see that all your friends have gone for a jog at 4 am, actually taken showers, dressed their children in adorable matching outfits, and shared photos of their morning smoothie #kale.

Someone discovers a trail of sugar ants in the pantry.

You hear what sounds like a box of toothpicks being dropped on the floor in the next room.

You discover that the dog has eaten your favorite pair of shoes.

A child that might belong to the neighbors comes barreling through the kitchen with muddy feet.

You go through an old pile of mail to find a bill that is now past due.

Finally, you sit down to breathe for a minute, reach for your coffeemaker and…

It’s broken.

That is the moment where the tears start piling up in your eyes and spilling over like the mountain of laundry that is overflowing in the upstairs hallway.

You yell at the next little person who walks in the room to ask for a banana (which you know you will find later in the week under someone’s bed).

You race to the bathroom for a full out ugly cry session, but as you sit on the toilet, 3 sets of hands start poking their way under the door crack.

How is a woman supposed to deal with these moments without pulling out what’s left of her post-natal head of hair or spending a child’s college fund on a therapy shopping trip to Target?

Here are some ways that I have learned to cope on those days when ALL HOPE SEEMS LOST.

#1 – Take a 5 minute Time-Out

When I feel my insides bubbling like a bottle of Diet Coke with a Mentos in it, I try to stop things before the big explode.  I will announce loudly that Mommy (not them) needs a time-out and then head to a spot in the house to be alone for 5 minutes.  Usually this is the bathroom.

*Note – If seeing hands poking under the door bothers you, climb into the shower and close the curtain.*

The hardest part is sticking to 5 minutes.  Be careful not to fall asleep in there or get lost checking email (and don’t – I repeat – DON’T get on Instagram or Facebook during a mommy meltdown – scrolling through everyone’s ‘best’ moments will not help your current situation) because for every minute past 5, a child will probably be doing something in the house that will create more work and drama for you later – like getting into the china cabinet or playing with your favorite pieces of jewelry in the kitchen sink.

#2 – Get dressed

If you are still in your pajamas – put some clothes on.

Sometimes just putting a bra or mascara on gives me that extra umph to think clearly.

#3 – Make contact with the outside world

Often we need to get out of our 4 walls and be reminded that there are other women out there having rough mornings too.  A few days ago when a solo trip to Ikea went really bad – like one kid screaming hysterically through the store for 15 minutes straight because his flip flop felt sticky???  And the other kid throwing a tantrum because we’d already gone on the elevator 503 times and he wanted 504???  She promptly responded with her own tale of a child just having a massive meltdown in the library.  The library, people.   We were able to encourage each other to keep persevering and I felt loads better.  Not because I was happy about my friend’s bad experience, I was just relieved to know that I wasn’t alone.

#4 – Turn on some worship music

When my spirit is in turmoil, I reach for my CD player (I am slightly Amish and don’t have an iPod). :-)

Listening to worship music (Hillsong, Elevation, Jesus Culture) or any Kari Jobe album (which is the equivalent of listening to angels sing) is an essential tool in my mommy meltdown arsenal.

Every once in awhile I will even scoop up my kids, buckle them in the car, give them a bag of Goldfish, set up the worship music and go for a drive.  Sometimes just driving around listening to songs about the Lord’s faithful, loving hand – with no destination in mind – can create an unexpected peace.

Just make sure that your turbulent mental state isn’t going to cause you to hit the gas pedal too hard.  Adding a speeding ticket to your already ‘perfect’ day will not be amusing.

Plus, it’s not safe.

#5 – Have a ‘Do Over’

On days when nothing is going right, attitudes are stinky, and situations keep circling from bad to worse, I tell my children that we are having a Do Over.  We all climb in bed and pretend to start the day over.  We ‘wake up’, greet each other happily and begin the day again with all our normal morning routines.  You can even go as far as serving breakfast a second time.  Whip up a batch of homemade waffles to redeem that argument from earlier. :-)

This usually gets everyone smiling and is a great demonstration of that verse from Lamentations about His mercies being new every morning…

#6 – Do something nice for someone else

Having a bad mommy day?  Go Ding Dong Diaper Ditch a new mom.  Or leave a new doormat on someone’s doorstep.  Or head to Starbucks and pay for the order of the person behind you.  Text a friend an encouraging word.  Send someone an E-card.

You will feel better.  I promise.

#7 – Bedtime Redemption

When all else fails and the day is ending and you reflect back on a whole lot of tense situations, angry glares, and harsh words, I like to use bedtime as a place to seek my childrens’ forgiveness for the ways I failed to honor the Lord (and them) with my behavior that day.  There is something special about those moments before bed – their little hearts are open a bit more (possibly because they know hanging out with me allows them to stay up later – ha!), but nonetheless, they are a bit more subdued than during the waking hours and it makes for a quiet pocket to reconnect.

**End the day well.**

#8 – The only thing that will REALLY work

The above suggestions are great, but managing a mommy meltdown can truly only be solved with the powerful words of God.

Because often a mommy meltdown is fueled by overwhelming feelings of weakness, unrealistic expectations, inadequacy, failure, self-condemnation, and other destructive lies.

And the only way to destroy lies is to replace them with truth.

Speak to yourself Psalm 18:32 – “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.”

Or Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Or Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Or a favorite of mine – Deuteronomy 33:12, “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.”

Those are the words that will wash over your soul and remove away the anger and stress and 100,000 tiny things that led you to the point of critical mass.

So when you’re headed to the bathroom for your 5-minute time-out, grab the Bible on your way.

Use those precious minutes to get filled up with all the wonderful promises He has for you in that Good Book.

And when your 5 minutes are up, let Him lift you up on His shoulders and carry you out of the bathroom and through your house (stepping over the laundry and discarded banana and yes, toothpicks) to continue pressing on in the calling of motherhood.

Being a mom is tough.  Days like the one I described above are probably going to happen and you will probably struggle to manage it well (unless you happen to be in the Duggar family).

But grace is about His strength being made perfect in weakness.

So let your mommy meltdown be the thing that draws you closer to Him instead of closer to bankruptcy.

Because Target ain’t got nothing on Jesus.

How do you manage a Mommy Meltdown?

- Julie :-)

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Provisions

When we got back from this trip we were greeted by the squishing of our toes in the corner of our dining room carpet.

Somehow water had leaked into the house while we were away and soaked through the dining room carpet as well as part of our tiled pantry.

Personally, I preferred the squishing of my toes in the sand of the Bahama beaches, but whatever. :-)

The hubs pulled the carpet back and set up a fan and we thought we had it all figured out.

Until a few weeks later when I went in the pantry to pull out my craft bin and low and behold discovered a garden of mold growing.

This led to the discovery that the outside of our house had a bunch of cracks which led to the unveiling of more mold that stretched all along the left side of the kitchen which led to the ripping out of cabinets which led to the relocation of waffle makers and mixing bowls and utensil drawers which led to the entire pantry needing to be stored on the dining room table which led to my children thinking that our home was now a Grand Corral buffet open all day long which led to the realization that we had absolutely no money to fix anything which led to us contacting our insurance for help.

As much as the water damage and mold was a big pain, the prospect of getting some financial assistance to fix things up was kind of exciting.

So I did what anyone would do.

I started a board on Pinterest for a kitchen remodel.

I’ve always been pretty happy with our kitchen.  It’s old and it has some funny quirks, but they never bothered me.

That is, until I began pinning.

Then I became hopelessly troubled that I didn’t have granite countertops and 42″ cabinets.

Armed with the knowledge that our insurance adjustor was ‘busy working behind the scenes’ with the claims department, we visited Home Depot and started dreaming up our perfect kitchen.  I began praying that insurance would give us a specific amount so that I could get my granite countertops AND possibly throw in some updated appliances AND maybe have a bit left over to replace the carpets.

**You know, totally and completely not selfish prayers.**

7 weeks later and we received a call that our insurance would not be helping us.

Not one little bit.

And I found myself feeling kind of grumpy.

What about my beautiful new kitchen?  What about my stainless steel things?  What about my granite?

And the Lord whispered to my spirit,

“Insurance is not your provider.  I AM your provider.”

Talk about a swift kick to the knees.

I repented of my selfish prayers.  The ones that didn’t take into account all the people in the universe who live in homes with dirt floors and no kitchens AT ALL.

I thanked God for giving us all that we could ever ask for or need in Jesus Christ.

Then something amazing happened.

Over the next few days, a man at church approached my hubby and said that he felt the Lord telling him to help us fix the leaks on the outside of our house as well as help repaint the exterior.  Then another man approached the hubby and said he could help rebuild the damaged cabinets.  Then another man took care of all the mold.  Then a few friends showed up with casseroles.

Then a friend of my neighbor’s found out about my Summer Bucket List and told me she worked at Benjamin Moore and could give us paint for my beloved yellow front door.

And we found ourselves completely and utterly in awe of the Lord’s provision.

In reflection, I am so humbled by how quick I was to exalt money to a position that was equated with my happiness.  As if receiving a large sum of money would fulfill the deepest desires of my soul.

As if a double oven could even do that.

When I look around our home, I see my Father’s handprints. I see the dining table that my parents bought for us.  I see the bookshelves a dear friend in college gave to us as newlyweds.  I see the crib and changing table from a former student’s mom.  I see a playhouse from my mother-in-law.  I see a couch we bought for a steal because the manager felt moved to accept our offer.  I see a bed given to us from another friend.  I see a dresser that we found in the garbage.  I see the mirror that a friend bought for me as a happy gift when our baby was in the hospital.  I see the dresser that used to be my brother’s.  I see the piano given to us by a girl we knew at Florida State.  I see our bedroom furniture that belonged to my parents when they first got married.

Provisions.  Needs met.  Every single one with a story behind it.  A reminder of GOD’s faithful provision through precious, obedient people.

Like the Church as described in Acts 2.

That is the stuff that works itself into our souls.

So as we face these ‘trials’ – these fallen world problems – I’m trying to train myself to see things with eyes fixed on a different home.

A home that is way more perfect than any of the ones in Southern Living.

A home that won’t ever have settling cracks or mold or damaged cabinetry.

A home that is full of glorious riches far greater than a check from insurance.

A home that is eternally provided for us through the perfect work of Christ.

This perspective gives freedom to be patient while it looks like your kitchen vomited its contents all over the living room (going on week 8).  It gives peace in knowing that He sees what we need.  It gives overwhelming gratitude when needs are creatively met.

And it gives joy to be fully trusting in the One who knows best.

Which reminds me…  I picked out a color for our front door -

pure joyBenjamin Moore – Pure Joy #327.

:-)

- Julie

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

For Busy Moms – What To Eat For Lunch

Hey there readers!  Today I am excited to share with you one of my dearest friends and college roommate – Jenna Braddock, from Fresh Food Perspectives.  This girl is AMAZING.  I loved getting to live with her during our FSU days and see what God was doing in her heart as she pursued a calling in nutrition.  She taught me so much about living for Jesus, eating healthy and caring for my body.  I asked if she would write a post for Happy Home Fairy featuring ideas about what busy moms can eat for lunch because, I don’t know about you, but this is the meal that I tend to have NO CLUE what to do with and usually end up eating yogurt and chocolate chips – which isn’t exactly fuel for finishing the laundry and having tickle fights with my boys.  I know you will love her wisdom and fresh ideas about food. :-)

What can busy moms eat for lunch?? Great, easy ideas!Lunch time.  Oh, lunch time.

In my house it usually happens like this:

We’ve been out all morning (at the gym, playground, grocery store, Costco, etc.) and because we don’t live near ANYTHING – except a Starbucks – we are literally out for the entire morning.

When we walk in the door, hopefully a little before noon, my baby is cranky, I’m starving, and my toddler is saying he is hungry– every. ten. seconds.  I’m trying to put away bags or food, entertain baby until I can feed him, figure out what we are going to eat, and pray for patience to answer my toddler’s non-stop food requests.

It’s not always pretty.

For a while, I just focused on feeding my boys and getting them down for their nap.  I figured that I’d feed myself after all that chaos was over.  But by the time I did end up eating (around 1:30pm), I was either too tired to care (and then just picked at something dumb) or I’d be ravenous and attack chips or chocolate before a thought of a vegetable even crossed my mind.  Neither of these paths left me feeling good in any way.  And it certainly didn’t set me up to have a productive nap time – which is crucial for my work life.  Most of the time, I’d end up needing a nap myself (which I 100% support, but don’t always want to feel like I need one).

After one too many afternoons of this, I realized that in order to be the mom I need to be for my family, my lunch needed to be just as important as my boys’ lunch.

Since then, things have changed a little around here at lunch time.

One, I try to plan ahead.

In fact, I do this for my sitter when she is here during lunch time so that it will be smooth and easy for her.  So why don’t I do that for myself?  Hmm.

Two, I now take a few extra minutes to prepare my lunch as well and then we all sit down together.

Usually I will serve my toddler and I the same thing.  I don’t necessarily eat his lunch, he eats my lunch (it’s semantics but I think it’s an important point).  Sometimes they come in slightly different versions – his is a “deconstructed” version of mine – but this makes it easier and enforces the idea that we all just eat food (as opposed to kids eat ‘kid food’ and adults eat ‘adult food’).

Here are a few ideas of the lunches I eat that make me feel energized and are fairly simple to prepare.  Cooking quinoa or prepping veggies on the weekend makes these meals happen a lot more easily during the week.

  1. Deli meat and cheese roll ups with a slice of avocado inside; broccoli and hummus.

  2. 1 cup Plain Greek yogurt with chopped cucumber, fresh dill, cumin, and raisins mixed in. Whole grain crackers on the side.

  3. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (natural PB and all-natural jelly) on whole wheat bread, carrot sticks and fresh berries on the side.

  4. Quinoa and black bean bowl with salsa, cheese, avocado.

  5. Salad with grilled chicken (leftover from dinner), fresh strawberries, chips and guacamole.

  6. Frozen veggie burger (lately, it’s this brand) with slice of cheese or sliced avocado, carrots and hummus, and blueberries.

What I look for in a lunch is a source of protein, at least one fruit or veggie, and something “happy” (e.g. a favorite healthy food like avocado, hummus, PB, black beans, whole grain chips, or sparkling water like La Croix).  Anything too high in carbs makes me feel sleepy and I need to have energy to get stuff done during nap time.  Including a “happy” food helps me not go back to the pantry several times during the afternoon to find something for my hankering.  It’s also a good idea to try to include many colors in your meal – especially something green.

So ladies, please take the time to care for yourself at lunch.  You may need a few different strategies to help you pull off lunches, depending on the schedule for your day.  Crazy days may need a short and sweet plan.  Less involved days may allow you to put in a little more time.

Either way, a little planning goes a long way!

What are your favorite go-to lunches?

- Jenna

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Jenna Braddock, MSH, RD, CSSD, LD/N is a registered dietitian and a mom to two boys. When not chasing down her sons or watching her husband coach football, she enjoys helping people have a positive relationship with food and reach their goals. As a nutrition expert she works as a healthy living speaker, nutrition counselor, blogger, recipe developer and media spokesperson. You can follow her fresh perspective and healthy recipes on her blog at www.FreshFoodPerspectives.com or on Twitter and Instagram as @JBraddockRD.