The Faces Change, But the Bluebonnets Remain the Same.

Texas Bluebonnets

We spent a few days in Texas last week for spring break, visiting my sister and her family. It was warm and wonderful, filled with good food (pie and ice cream and Texas BBQ!), good beer (my new favorite Shiner) and good company. I’ll be writing a round-up post for travel purposes, but in the meantime I just had to share our bluebonnet pictures.

Texas Bluebonnets

We seem to only visit Texas in April. I’m sure it’s lovely year round, but it’s hard to beat a trip during bluebonnet season. The Texas wildflower is everywhere this time of year, and the sight of them never gets old. Every time we visit, the kids know they must endure a photo session in the bluebonnets. It’s non-negotiable. Now, in years past, it wasn’t hard to doll them up in cute outfits and pose them in any way I saw fit. The last time we did this was four years ago, and the kids were 3 and 8.

And while the march of time has certainly made aspects of parenting easier, the same can not be said for taking posed pictures in a patch of wildflowers. One kid wants to only make goofy faces, the other kid doesn’t want to show any teeth.

Texas Bluebonnets

Texas Bluebonnets

Texas Bluebonnets

Texas Bluebonnets

On second thought, maybe not that much has changed.

I brought along acceptable outfits, but long gave up on matching. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time fretting over them. We found the perfect bluebonnet patch (I can’t help thinking of them like the pumpkin patch in Peanuts: “It’s the most sincere bluebonnet patch around!”), but the outfits were in the suitcases instead of on the children. Thank heavens for the crop tool in Lightroom.

Texas Bluebonnets

Texas Bluebonnets

In the end, it was completely fine. The pictures you take when your kids are 2 are not the same pictures you take when they’re 12. Life is different … not bad different, just different. Sure, they don’t wear what I wish they would, smile on command, or pose in any way that would require touching each other. But they also sleep through the night, wipe their own bottoms, and cut up their own food. They are growing up, and it’s utterly frustrating and fantastic. They were wonderful travel companions, and I enjoy their company. If that means they’re too big for me to braid their hair or make them cuddle, that’s a trade-off I can live with.

Texas Bluebonnets

They’re still pretty damn cute in a patch of Texas wildflowers. Bluebonnets are magical that way.

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Consider This Your Fuel Up To Play 60 Playbook

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by American Dairy Association Indiana and the NFL’s Fuel Up To Play 60 Program. Through a series of posts, I’ll be sharing information about Fuel Up To Play 60 and how you and your kids can get involved.

Fuel Up To Play 60

Last month I found myself back in middle school. Just like my own middle school days, I woke up (too early for my liking), did my hair and makeup (I’d like to think I’m a little better at it now), and walked nervously through the cafeteria doors. I mingled with the students of Zionsville West Middle School as they prepped for a day of ISTEP testing by fueling up with a hearty breakfast. While breakfast is served every day for any student who wants it, this particular Monday morning was special, as it kicked off National School Breakfast Week.

Fuel Up To Play 60

Along with Indiana Dairy, Pat McAfee of the Indianapolis Colts was there, serving breakfast and giving the students a pep talk about nutrition and fueling up for whatever lie ahead, whether it be the playoffs or a math test.

Pat McAfee Fuel Up To Play 60

Healthy breakfasts and visits from NFL players are just a few of the benefits for a school participating in the Fuel Up To Play 60 Program (FUTP60). As a parent and a fan of the NFL, I’d heard of Play 60. However, if you pressed me for more information about the program, I’d have to punt, pass or kick on the question. I had no idea what the program was actually about, why I might want my kids involved, or if their school even participated. I figured that if I didn’t know, chances were pretty good you didn’t know, either. So when offered the chance to work with Indiana Dairy and the NFL to spread the word about FUTP60, I jumped. In the end, I hope you’re as inspired as I am to get kids fueled up and moving.

Like me, you may have heard of Play 60 and FUTP60, but weren’t sure what they were or if they were even different names for the same thing. Play 60 is the NFL’s campaign to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes a day. Fuel Up to Play 60 is a program partner, in which the NFL and the National Dairy Council joined forces to create an in-school program that works with kids to combine daily physical activity with nutritious eating habits. Parents and kids can participate in Play 60 through schools, contests and community events. FUTP60, however, is an in-school program.

IMG_7758

It turns out neither of my kids’ schools are participating in the FUTP60 (something I hope to change). I had the chance to speak with Andrea McMurtry, the Wellness teacher for 7th and 8th graders at Fishers Junior High. I had lots of questions for her about the program, and she was happy to answer.

How can a parent find out if their school is participating in the program?

Visit www.fueluptoplay60.com and choose whether you’re a student or a supporter. At the top of each page, you can enter your zip code to see which schools in your area are participating.

If your child’s school is participating, does that mean all the kids within that school are participating? And if not, how do they make sure their kids are signed up if they’re interested?

At Fishers Junior High, Andrea offers a promotion period at the end of each school year to get students involved. Student participants (or Ambassadors) do so on a voluntary basis. Not every school offers FUTP60, but a student can sign up on their own if they feel passionately about nutrition and physical activity.

What can a parent do if their school isn’t participating in FUTP60 and they want to get involved?

Parents can contact the school and see if teachers are interested in implementing the program. As well all know, teachers have full plates. For that reason, parents can also organize a group of students to do FUTP60 by signing up to represent their child’s school as a Program Advisor. Everything you need to know can be found on the Supporter section of the FUTP60 website.

I asked Andrea to tell me more about the kids from her school who were involved in FUTP60. The 30 FUTP60 Ambassadors at Fishers Junior High meet weekly with Andrea and discuss ways to improve the health and fitness of their peers. They combine challenges and suggestions provided by the FUTP60 program as well as create activities of their own. By participating in the program, Andrea sees firsthand how it empowers student leaders to create projects and ideas that will have a positive influence on their peers, through healthy eating challenges or physical activity events. Andrea also had very exciting news to share: one of her students was just picked as the state Ambassador for Indiana, and will get to attend the Student Ambassador Summit in Chicago this summer with all expenses paid! What an amazing opportunity.

I also asked Andrea if being involved in the program took up a lot of time, something both teachers and parents don’t have a lot of. She spends anywhere from an hour to 5 hours a week doing program-related activities, but feels that a Program Advisor could successfully run a school program for an hour a week or less.

Pat McAfee and Angie Six Fuel Up To Play 60

I was so encouraged to hear this! It doesn’t take much to get involved and start making a positive impact on our kids’ nutrition and physical activity. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way in shaping healthy habits for our kids. Just yesterday, Eli came home from school after participating in Fitness Club. They’d talked about making healthy choices when eating, and how sometimes when you’re on vacation (we just returned from Spring Break) you make different choices. Would you believe the kid came home and asked if he could eat a healthy snack (pineapple) and run around the neighborhood a few times? Um, yes (and I should join you)! A program like Fuel Up To Play 60 can provide just that kind of encouragement and inspiration. I’m so excited to get involved.

Does your school participate in Fuel Up To Play 60? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences with the program. If not, would you consider being a Program Advisor?

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Springy Things

Star Magnolia Buds

It’s Spring Break and, miracle of miracles, it actually feels like spring! We weren’t taking any chances, though, so I booked us tickets to see my sister in Dallas for a few days. I wasn’t about to spend Spring Break shivering this year. It’s been three years since we last made the trek to the Big D. We’ve got lots of fun things planned, including a tour of Blue Bell Ice Cream in Brenham, Elena’s first In-n-Out burger, and rolling around in the bluebonnets. We can’t wait!

I’ve had requests to review the books I’ve read more frequently than just once a year, and I’m on it! I’m well on my way to my goal of reading 35 books this year. So far I’ve read 17! I’ll recap the books I read from January through March in the next couple of weeks. It’s been a good first quarter of reading, that’s for sure!

Secrets of Happy Families

Two books, in particular, have been what I would call “lightening bolt” books for me. That means they’ve jolted me into thinking about something in a completely different way. The first book is Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Tell Your Family History, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More. The entire book was wonderful, and so different from any parenting-type book I’ve ever read – so honest, hopeful and not the least bit condescending. Thanks to some things I read about in the book, we’ve implemented a weekly family meeting and have tackled some big, tricky issues in our home that tends to make us not so happy: personal responsibilities and screen time. We’re coming up on a month of family meetings and I’ve been awestruck at how something so simple is improving our daily life. After we get another month or so of these changes under our belt, I’ll be sure to fill you in.

The second book is Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. I’ve really enjoyed Gretchen’s other books about happiness. Her nerdy and relentless pursuit of happiness and order speak to my soul! I’m about 2/3 of the way through this one and I can already tell it’s going to change my life. If you’ve ever struggled to make and keep a habit, and wonder what exactly is wrong with you when you fail, this book is for you. Or if you’re awesome at making and keeping good habits, but the people around you at work and home utterly frustrate you with their inability to do the same? This book is also for you. I alternate between laughing out loud and gasping out loud at “aha” moments.

Six Family NCAA Bracket Challenge

It’s a big weekend here in Indy, with the Final Four rolling in town. On Sunday Eli is participating in the Dribble. I’m looking forward to seeing my lovely city decked out in its NCAA finest. Speaking of NCAA finest, we did our first ever Six Family NCAA Bracket Challenge. Guess who has already been declared the winner? Me! The winner had the choice of $20 or being King/Queen for a day. I was relentlessly bullied into taking the $20, as the general consensus was that I was already the Queen of the family. In her defense, Elena stuck up for my right to be the Queen, and agreed that I’d be much easier to deal with than if Mike won. She said all I would want is to drink my coffee and take a nap. That girl knows her momma.

One last fun spring thing … the National Wildlife Federation is looking for Butterfly Heroes. The Monarch butterfly population in the US has dropped be more than 90%, mostly due to agricultural and gardening practices. But your kids can help save the Monarchs! Just upload a photo of you or your kids making the ASL sign for butterfly, and they’ll send you a free Butterfly Garden Starter Kit. In case you didn’t know, Gus is a fan of butterflies.

NWF Butterfly Heroes

What are you guys up to for Spring Break? And is there anything really great that you’ve read I should add to my reading list?

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