Thursday, October 11, 2012


I've basically given up feeling guilty for not posting regularly. So there!

Today, I was the parent helper at J's preschool and we went on a field trip to the Nature Center. Last month, I was also the parent helper on the day we went on our first visit to the Nature Center, so now I've gone twice in a row. And I don't know how much the kids are learning, but I am learning lots and lots! Last time, we learned about local birds and animals that live at the Center, and this time we learned about identifying local trees and the hows and whys of fall colors. It was fascinating and fun. The plan is for the kids to go back to the Center once a month for the entire school year. I think by the end we will all have memorized the trails and become very familiar with the area, but I think that's good for all of us. Next month, even though I'm not the parent helper, I may volunteer to drive and take Toddler E along, just for fun!

However, field trips aside, being the parent helper is a bit of a culinary challenge for me. In addition to various in classroom duties we have, like crowd control and clean-up, we are responsible for bringing in a nutritious snack for 16 kids and two teachers. Fine, easy enough, right? WRONG! Because, first, our snacks must be nut free. Second, they much be gluten-free. Third, they should be something our child likes to eat. And fourth, as I mentioned, they should be healthy.

Shoot me now!

My first attempt at snack this year was little portions of turkey pepperoni and cubed cheese and little portions of mixed dried fruit. Epic fail. Most children ate basically nothing, tossing full bags of snacks in the garbage, much to my chagrin. Even J acted like he had never eaten cheese in his life before, although he did eat almost everyone else's pepperoni. So, for my second attempt today, I decided to try a family style snack instead. I put out trays with clementines, sliced cucumbers, and baby carrots in the middle of the tables, along with cheese and crackers, though we did get all fancy and cut the sliced cheese into leaf, pumpkin, and apple shapes, in light of our Nature Center trip and Fall. Much more successful! The oranges were the biggest hit, followed by the cheese (I put some aside without crackers especially for the gluten-free kid), and then the carrots. The cucumbers were the least liked, but J loves cucumbers and only eats three or so vegetables, so I could live with that. Plus, I got to take all the leftovers home with me, so no waste. Huzzah! Do we think I can just bring the same snack every month when it's my turn? Because I am so considering it!

Here are some shots from our last trip, where we learned how to differentiate between the various types of squirrels and had close (very close) encounters with a group of deer completely unperturbed by a gaggle of 4 year olds just feet away:

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