I remember one morning (before we homeschooled) when the twins were still adjusting to all-day school—first grade. I took a half-sip of coffee, caught the bagels as they sprang from the toaster, and shoved the gallon milk jug back into the fridge before sinking into my chair at our kitchen table. I glanced at the twins as they hovered over their cereal bowls, rushing to spoon a few more bites of Cheerios into their mouths before the carpool arrived. Hurry through breakfast. Brush teeth. Grab a jacket, and head out the door until 3:00. Oh—and don't forget to stuff that bag lunch (the one that barely gets eaten) into the backpack. "Boys, wait—don't I get a kiss?"
That was before we homeschooled. But, thankfully, the next fall—all of that changed! We began to teach at home. We stopped rushing around. We made healthier choices. We weren't in the car all the time.
At lunch time, we assembled sandwiches or leftovers from the night before, took our time to eat, and lingered at the table to talk. When I look back, I see that homeschooling provided a great opportunity to make good nutrition a top priority. Plus, it provided the added benefit of making healthy, effective communication a top priority, too...something that's often overlooked in our quest for fast everything...
As I opened the Johns Hopkins Health newsletter (Winter 2014 edition) the other day, I noticed an article co-authored by Dr. Roger Blumenthal, director of Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, and cardiologist, Michael Blaha that highly recommended the Mediterranean-style diet. I thought to myself, "This is what Costas (my Greek brother-in-law) and I have been talking about for months!" He naturally adheres to the traditional Greek, low-carb, healthy-fat, lean-protein diet which consists of lots of fresh fruits, veggies, tree nuts with healthy oils, fish, whole-grain carbs, and olive oil.
This is the wonderful thing about homeschooling—we're always learning. And because we're with our kids at meal times, it makes it easier to implement the new things we're discovering about better nutrition and a healthier lifestyle.
Recently, I made delicious baked chicken with olive oil. I included the juice of one lemon to give it that Greek flair. It was easy and tasty (I used chicken breasts w/ skins, lightly covered them in a little olive oil, sprinkled the juice and added a touch of salt on top, then baked the dish at 375 for about an hour). We took the skins off before eating, then served the chicken w/ red potatoes and a Greek salad (lots of spinach, olives, and a little feta cheese).
I remember one afternoon when the twins were about ten—they were in our little schoolroom upstairs working diligently on their math worksheets. I put together a colorful plate of carrots, pineapple, strawberries and pistachio nuts—and when they finished math, we enjoyed the snack together, and discussed some of the great qualities of each of the items on the plate, such as the benefit of beta-carotene, and why strawberries are called the "inside-out" fruit. That's due to the fact that its seeds (achenes)—the light specks on the surface—are on the outside.
I'm very thankful for the opportunity to have homeschooled, the wonderful meals together at the family table, and those lighter moments in the homeschool room when we enjoyed snacks together and learned about all kinds of wonderful, colorful produce!
Keep learning! And stay faithful in teaching.