I Am Baker

how to dominate after school snacks

Did you know that I have been a homeschooling mom for the last 4 years? It was great!

Well, kinda great.  I love everything about homeschooling and still stand strong in my support of it.

But I got overwhelmed. And stressed. And sometimes angry. And impatient with my kids and found teaching three different grades at once to be more than I could handle.  And I realized… I may not be doing the best thing for my kids by homeschooling.

Rettke Kids first day of school 2014

We just happen to live near a very small private school (57 kids total in K-12).  I enrolled them and now have not one, not two, but three first time students!  I joined the ranks of so many others and celebrated this momentous occasion with a “first day of school” picture.

But I cried.  I cried a lot.

Rettke Kids first day of school 2014

They did not.  I still want them home with me in the worst way, but they are absolutely thriving in their school and truly love it.  They are excited every day to go and excited every day when I pick them up.

On top of everything that comes with sending your babies off to school for the first time (and the guilt of feeling like I failed at homeschooling), what to feed the kids after school turned into an issue. They seemed to be starving the second they walked in the door, but I was woefully unprepared and was always scrambling to find something light enough to not fill them up but that was healthy enough to re-charge their little bodies.

I spend enough time worrying about actual meals that snacks were getting seriously neglected. I hopped online and researched ‘after school snacks’.  (Don’t laugh!)

How to Dominate After School Snacks

Here is what I found:

1. BE CONSISTENT. The kids should know what their options are and where to find them.  Keeping them in the same place is a great way to avoid the “what can I have to eat” discussion every single day.  As you can see above, I set up a Snack Station.  Fresh fruit compliments the granola, bars, cookies and crackers that the kids have to choose from.

How to Dominate After School Snacks

2. OFFER A VARIETY OF CHOICES.  When they feel empowered to choose what they having they are more likely to not complain if it is healthy, good for them, or just not as sweet as they would like.

Teaching them to reach for protein based snacks as a child will help to steer them clear of heavy sugar-laden snacks as an adult.  I also talk to my kids about what they are eating.  When they eat veggies fresh from the garden I ask them to pay attention to how their body feels after.  Alternatively, when I have made a ridiculously sugary cake and they get a small piece, they are to observe how that makes them feel as well.  It is awesome to see how they can distinguish between good energy and the drastic decent of a sugar high, leaving them with headaches, stomach aches and sometimes hunger!

I want my kids to make good choices on their own and based on their own experiences.

How to Dominate After School Snacks

3. TIMING IS EVERYTHING.  They are allowed a snack when they get home, but not after 4:00.

We get home from school at 3:15 and eat dinner around 6:00, so a small snack is just fine for their growing bodies.  If they eat after 4:00 is starts to affect dinner time (which is also always family time) so they are encouraged to have something right away.

How to Dominate After School Snacks

Those cookies are the Oat Bran Cookies from CVS/pharmacy, but with my job there is often baked goods in the house.  I will share homemade cookies and treats when it is appropriate, but being a baker heavily relying on sugar, my cookies are not always the best option.

The kids get the option of fresh fruit, cookies and bars, and fresh cut veggies in the fridge.  I have found that if they are cut up and presented in a pretty way the kids are more likely to eat them.  Also, we still have an abundance of veggies in the garden, so they are welcome to snack on anything they find. (carrots, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, peas)

To get ready for the week I head to CVS/pharmacy and get everything I can in their Gold Emblem “Abound” snack line.  The products are free from artificial preservatives and flavors, low in sodium (except for some nuts),  and really delicious.

Our new favorite is the Lime & Black Pepper Baked Rice Thins.  There is so  much flavor and texture that you really feel full after just a few bites!

In all honesty, I have started using them as MY go-to snack in the afternoon because they make me feel full and satisfied and I don’t have the urge to reach for sugar!  Which is a miracle!! (I am highly addicted to sugar)  So yeah, I may have bought 10 packages.

How to Dominate After School Snacks

Myself and the big kids are not the only ones who enjoy a snack… the little ones do to!  It is great having them all in one spot so I can grab some for a long car ride or if I need to hop on the phone and quiet a little one or even if they are just hungry!

It has been a blessing to be able to work with CVS/pharmacy and share their Gold Emblem Abound products.  I feel like the timing was just perfect! It has been difficult transitioning into having kids in school and working from home and still taking cake of the little kids and feeling “mom-guilt” over the less-then-healthy snack options I was reaching for.

I try to only work with brands and companies that are a good fit for my family, and CVS/pharmacy has exceeded my expectations.  So while I was compensated to work with them, I can honestly tell you that I am thrilled with their product and will be using it on a regular basis!

I Am Baker

today i will

Some days are just easy to enjoy.



This day was one of those days.

When I woke up to a clearly defined plan of attack, and set about sticking to it as the sun crept higher and higher in the sky, it was easier to enjoy the little moments.

Why I don’t stick to a defined schedule everyday is beyond me, as it is clearly something I benefit from!  But what is even more important, my kids benefit as well.  They perform so well when they know what is expected of them.

On this day our homeschool time and requirements were very clearly laid out.  Like clockwork, the kids would complete a task and move to the next.

It was refreshing and encouraging. (And totally not something that I expect everyday!  I just wanted to appreciate THIS day.)

So, it seems to me, if I want to find joy in my daily routine and set the tone for our home, I need to be intentional about it.

Intentional living.

Better write that on my to-do list.

I Am Baker

Homeschool Room Ideas for 2013

I read on unclutterer that “When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus.”

Glancing around the schoolroom made me realize that I needed to get better organized!  Which of course led me to pinterest where I spent way to much time looking at things I will never have but sure are fun to dream about.

I thought I’d share some of the beautiful and certainly efficient spaces found… and hope they inspire you as much as they did me!

Homeschool Room

 This awesomely organized space is from 1plus1plus1equals1.net.  She gives a whole tour of her space and details about specific organization tips and tricks.  Great post and definitely worth checking out!


Homeschool Room
I kinda sorta totally want to make this my personal space, but then I refocus and remember why I am looking and realize that it would be a perfect area for kids to learn in.   The origin of this picture seems to come from BHG.com, but sadly I cannot find a specific link.


There is nothing about this space I dont love.  It looks like the chairs are even personalized!  


This would definitely be an excellent craft space!  Amazing work from The Vintage Glitter House.


Shelves. Storage. Giant chalkboard wall.  Its a Homeschooling Parents dream!


The  original title of this picture is Eclectic Farmhouse.  All I have to say to that is,
“Move me to that farm immediately.  Immediately I tell you!”


Homeschool Room
I think this one is my favorite simply because it is do-able.  Plus it works well for small spaces!
I cannot find a source to credit, so if you know please do point me in the right direction!


If you are an iambaker reader and receiving this post in error, please accept my apologies!  We are working on resolving the issue.  Google Reader is going away soon and feedburner is not as reliable as it used to be.  I have switched my RSS feed over to MadMimi.  I had four separate feeds (for my separate blogs) prior to the switch and am trying to regain that functionality.  Again, please accept my apologies!
I Am Baker

Fun Giveaway for Homeschoolers!

Homeschool Giveaway: $100 in the Curriculum of your choice!


Howdy Homeschooling Mamas and Papas!

I am having a curriculum giveaway on my Homeschooling Community.  How do you enter?  Simply join the community and comment, reply, or post!

Full details are listed there!

Cant wait to see you and get to know you better!




I Am Baker

Mom & Homeschooling Community

Howdy all! Just a little note to tell you that I started a little place for homeschooling folks.  Its just somewhere you can drop a link to a helpful site or ask a question or even offer support to another homeschooling mom.


Join a Fun Homeschooling Community for Free at iambaker.net

Now, AS a homeschooling mom I know how many things we are already juggling, so I am definitely not trying to add to your stress!

I just know that every now and then I want to ask a question or share a great site or even just check in with other homeschooling moms.  Even though Facebook is great for making connections, it is not as safe and secure as I would prefer when it comes to issues involving my kids.

There is no gimmick, no catch or strings attached for you being a part of it.  Its just a fun, safe, informative place to be.


Join the 'i am mommy' community at iambaker.net

There is also mommy community, as well as faith, baking, and general.  You are welcome to join one or all!  There are currently over a 1,000 members in the communities… I am looking for some more specific and intentional interaction in the coming months.  I really really just want to know more about you!  So all opinions welcome!

In the near future I will be having some great contests with AMAZING prizes and would love for you to be a part of it!

To join simply click here. (iambaker.net/community)

Fill out the info and you are all set!


I Am Baker

A Day in the Life

If I could do it, this is how everyday weekday around here would go:

6:30-7:00 workout

7:00-8:00 Kids get up, Healthy and Hot Breakfast, Get Dressed

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

8:00-12:00 Homeschooling for Colton, Parker, and Audrey.  Eddie plays nicely in the room with us.

12:00-1:00 Hot and Delicious Lunch

1:00 Eddie down for nap

Eddie Sleeping Peacefully

1:00-3:00 Work time for me, kids do chores or have downtime

3:00-5:00 Laundry (family helps), playtime, finish up any chores and homeschool that need extra help

5:00-6:00 Dinner

6:00- 9:00 Downtime, Work for me, Bath time, Prepare lesson plans for next day, Kids go to Bed

10:01              I go to bed.


What our days actually look like.

6:30-7:00 I am sleeping.  Or trying to.  Pretending I am sleeping cause I want to sleep so bad.

7:00-8:00 I get up.  Work out for 30 minutes.  Spend next 30 minutes sitting in chair in front of TV.

8:00-12:00 Try and get all kids up and fed.  Usually cold cereal.  Eddie spills his all over himself and floor.  Colton has four bowls.  Audrey asks for second bowl, then refuses to eat it.

Start Homeschooling… have to take extra time with Colton.  Parker and Audrey watch PBS all morning.  Eddie sits on my lap and writes all over Coltons work.  Then he gets down and starts screaming.  Then he poops.  Then I change his diaper.  But then it smells so bad I have to change the garbage, and while I am doing that why not bring out the recycling.  Then I see the dishes from breakfast all over the table and counter.  And sticky spilled milk and mushy cereal on the floor.  So clean it up.  Colton is yelling at me to come help him.  Quick check email.  And facebook.  Darn facebook.

Finally get Coltons work done and move on to Parker.  Its 11:51.

12:00-1:00 Lunch.  Ask the kids what they want.  They all scream, “Pizza!”  We have PB&J’s on old hot dog buns.

1:00 Read Eddie a story. Hope he goes to sleep.

1:47 Find Eddie like this.

Eddie Sleeping

1:00-3:00 Try to sit down and get work done. Break up 2 fights.  Put Audrey in time out.  Forget she is in time out. Give in and let kids play Angry Birds just so they will be quiet.  Watch last 7 minutes of General Hospital.  (Don’t judge me) Remember have to finish homeschooling Parker.  Realize I left garbage and recycling on kitchen floor.  House smells like poopy diaper.

3:00-5:00 Finally finish homeschooling everyone.  Sit down to do some work, end up playing facebook games.  Spend next 29 minutes liking status’ on facebook.   Close facebook.  Answer emails for five minutes.  Open facebook and resume game.  Hubby will be home soon.  Rush around getting everyone out of their jammies, cleaning up visible messes, throwing laundry in wash so it looks like I have been working on it all day, google “Quick and Easy Dinner” and find something to make.

5:00-6:00 Sit down, have dinner as family, then just sit there as everyone finishes.  They will clean up after themselves   They will.  I just know it.  I am not moving until they do.

Finally get up from table.

6:00-9:00 Hubby takes care of bath, play time, and instructing children how to clean up play area.  Gets them ready for bed.  He is basically the awesomest hubby ever.

I have updated my blog, read other peoples blogs; commented, pinned, shared, tweeted, watched one of the Real Housewives, folded some laundry, made a mental gameplan for homeschooling tomorrow, and finally got into bed.

Exhausted.  I did mention I am five months pregnant right?  Cause yeah.  The swelling and extra weight and occasional puking and frequent headaches… those are interspersed throughout the day as well.

Its 8:52.



Yesterday, one of Coltons tasks was to write a four sentence paragraph about anything he wanted.  I was prepared for a compelling story about Angry Birds.

This is what he wrote.

Coltons Story

And that is why I do what I do.  :)  Cant wait for tomorrow!


I Am Baker

Where We Learn

One of the many things that this family has been up to lately is homeschooling.  And one thing that I knew we needed when we decided to take on this venture was a designated space for our school work.

My office/craft room/computer room/storage room ended up being the perfect place for our kids to grow in.


I am going to show you what it looked like before.  Before I cleaned.  Before I organized.  Before I begrudgingly decided to share.


Its shameful, I know.  The mess was horrific.

But its gone now!


This is what you see when you walk in the room.  Parkers desk on the north wall and a little toy chest/reading area for Audrey while the boys do school work. (the toy chest is on the other side of the desk)


Parkers desk.


This is Coltons area.  He has lots of room to spread out!


The kids often sit and play games at the computer (we enjoy PBS kids and Starfall) and sometimes I catch up on emails when they are doing their school work!

The new -cleaner- arrangement has worked well so far! :)

Totally off topic, thanks for all the prayers about my tooth.  I think I am definitely on the healing path and the pain has gone down drastically!  Thank you so much!

I Am Baker

A Little Of This…

I cant believe its been over a week since I last posted.

I feel like it was just yesterday!

That being said, let me share a bit.

I am now about 35 weeks pregnant.  I saw a picture of myself and was like, “WHO is that outrageously fat person?”

Um, me.

I have a toothache.  About a year ago a portion of my farthest back left tooth fell off and its been slowly disintegrating away ever since.  I have been treating it naturally… raw garlic, clove oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, and charcoal.  I have been able to tolerate the pain, but generally speaking, its always there.  Hitting my third trimester I was suddenly in excruciating pain day and night.

And being preggers means no drugs.

Yay me.

Finally went to the dentist and (long story short) they are just going to take out the tooth.  No repairs can be made.

Did I mention ever since I started treating teeth issues naturally that I encouraged my husband to cancel our dental insurance?  Yeah.  Should be a fun bill.

I am officially homeschooling Colton.  We started curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications, through a recommendation from Christy.  I really like it as it is detailed!  Tells me exactly what I need to do and teach and when.

Colton is not such a fan.  I really need to do more research ito how to make school more fun for him… as I don’t seem to have any creative energy left in me lately.

My favorite 50mm lens that I use for EVERYTHING died.  I panicked and called my husband in a tizzy and was totally incoherent.

Apparently I am addicted to my camera.

He came home with the most beautiful Canon 2.8 100mm macro lens.  Its like… gorgeous.  Wish I could take a picture of it. ;)


Macro lens’ are good for close ups of eyes.  My favorite thing to photograph.

I have so many things I want to share… about life and love and faith and family… but never seem to find the time to get written down. (Does anyone else sorta use thier blog as an online journal??)

Oh, and we still need to think of a baby name.

At least we know its a boy.

I Am Baker

I’m Taking On Shakespeare

I loved reading your comments about Shakespeare and how you have incorporated it into your lives… you really got me thinking girls!  In a very good way.

I agree that Shakespeare is an extremely intelligent writer, with great use of language and exquisitely described emotion.

I do not think it is appropriate for children.  Mostly.  Like  Seraphim mentioned, "Shakespeare wrote some of the most lyrical and beautiful verses that have
endured for centuries and I see no harm in sharing that with children."

True that.

In my personal experience, I read and saw Romeo and Juliet when I
was in middle school… I was totally distracted by the 'sex' scene. The story…the fantastic tragedy and
heart wrenching love saga… were all lost on me. I was a teenager.  And I do not believe mine was an abnormal response.

If one of the defenses is, "Children should learn this literature and the
human complexities behind it and understand the value of 'classic'

…well, then should they be reading adapted versions?  If
that is truly the argument, then what value is the 'childrens' version,
where the beauty of the language and the true story is not represented?

That being said, I do not think the content is appropriate for children.  Most certainly not for 7, 8, 9 or 10 year olds.

Now, am I so old fashioned as to try and shield my children from every genre that Shakespeare represents?

Golly no.

Thats what the Bible is for.  The original great

The Bible has its own share of lust, incest, murder,
deception, and greed.  The benefit of children hearing it from the
Bible is the follow through.  Not only are they exposed to the
grotesque sin of all man, but it is coupled with the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of a holy and loving God.

Can a child truly understand Shakespeare and his complex irony if
they don't have a strong Biblical foundation to perceive it from? 
Maybe.  But I am not willing to take the chance with my children.

So, thats my opinion.  I apologize if this is offensive to anyone. 

But I thank you for sharing your insights and hope you know that you made an impact!

I Am Baker

To Teach or Not To Teach?

I suddenly realized I had an opinion (and a strong one at that) about a topic that I never even contemplated before.

So I pose the question to you.


Do you think Shakespeare is appropriate for 6+ year olds?

If yes, why?

If not, when is it?

*This is a repost, but I think I have about seven more readers now then I did two years ago, so I cant wait to hear some new opinions!  I will be posting my opinion on it tomorrow.