To my little – It’s your last day of elementary school.

To my little – It’s your last day of elementary school.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well my little, it is here.  Five years of elementary school have literally flown by for you.  In true Callen fashion, you came barreling in and have lived every moment to its fullest.  It has been a joy to watch you soak in the last few weeks and all the final events.  Your smile (well what I could see through my tears) was absolutely infectious yesterday as you walked through all the parent’s cheering your class on.

It would be a lie to say that the last few years have been a breeze.  “School” has not come easy and the terrible timing of e-learning in some of those foundational years has left a profound mark.  We have had to learn how to advocate for you and learn how to teach you from a different perspective. This has taken a village, hours of research, trying new things and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but we are beyond proud of how much you have grown. 

I went into your fourth grade year with some definite hesitations. Would having such a good friend as a teacher work?  Would there be any effect on our friendship?  Do you know what? It may have been your biggest blessing ever in your educational journey.  You had an advocate that truly understood you, fought for you and even better yet got to laugh with you and celebrate every growth moment you had. If I were to look back on anything this year, I can say without a doubt, God’s plan was far greater than my mom fears.  For this I am incredibly grateful.


A few things we want you to know:

I know you don’t think you are ready for middle school, but you are far more ready than you give yourself credit for.

You have two big brothers who have blazed a trail before you, use it, learn from it, but continue to blaze your own.

You may not fit the “school” box perfectly.  That is okay.  The world needs more people like you.  

Not everybody needs to get from point A to point B in a straight line.  Trust me, your mom knows this all too well.  Straight lines are boring.

Your brain is special.  You have a gift of creativity that few have anymore.  

Your fire and passion can be a blessing or a curse.  Learn how to harness it, to know when to fight with fire full on and when to take a step back and wait. It can become one of your greatest strengths.

You have an infectious smile and a special gift of friendship, hold tightly to that gift.  Don’t let anyone steal this.

It is okay to be frustrated, because growth is painful. It isn’t supposed to be easy and you are enough.

“You do not just wake up and become the butterfly. Growth is a process.”

Rupi Kaur

Your dad and I are beyond proud of you and your journey.  While I may have shed some tears at your 4th grade ceremony, I am truly excited for what middle school has in store for you.  Let your creative brain shine.

So today on your last day of school, as our family officially exits the safe elementary bubble, give a few of your notorious Callen “Tank”  hugs to each of those impactful teachers and flash that smile as you bravely walk out the doors one last time.

Mindful Eating 101

Mindful Eating 101

Do you ever think about how you eat?

Do you grab just anything on the way to work and eat it in the car?

Do you try to eat while checking emails or working?

I know I am often guilty of this!

If you are not being intentional about how and what you eat, it may be impacting your digestive system. Mindful eating is simply eating with intention and paying attention to your food, including when, what, and how much you eat. Research has shown that mindful eating improves digestion, eating habits, and overall health. It can also have a positive impact on the emotional and psychological aspects of eating.


How Mindless Eating Affects Your Health

Poor Digestion

Thinking about food before eating it actually prepares your mind and body for the first stage of digestion because the brain starts to anticipate the smell and taste of the food, stimulating digestive juices. It also triggers the release of enzymes that will help break down the food. On the other hand, if you eat mindlessly and don’t pay attention to your food, then your brain doesn’t prepare properly. You have actually cheated your brain, and it may lead to poor digestion and weight gain.

Stress 

Eating while working can increase the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone suppresses the production of enzymes, stomach acid, and saliva needed to digest food, resulting in undigested food, lost nutrients, acid reflux, gas, and bloating.

Over-eating

Mindless eating often leads to over-eating. Inhaling food quickly prevents you from noticing your body’s signals that it is full. It can result in poor digestion or even complications with your digestive system, such as inflammatory bowel disease. Our ability to digest food and absorb nutrients is also affected by stress, hormones, gut microbial imbalance, toxins, and food sensitivities.


Mindful Eating 101

Practicing mindful eating is not as intimidating as it sounds, and the more you practice, the more effortless and less of a process it becomes. It does not have to be long and drawn out, but mindful eating should be just that—mindful, intentional, and focused. Here are a few simple ways to start eating more mindfully:

1.    Plan your meals, or at least what you are going to eat for your next snack or meal. Planning ahead gives your mind and body a chance to prepare for and anticipate what you will be consuming. Planning also prevents you from grabbing something unhealthy at the last minute that you will end up scarfing down in a hurry and allows you to set aside enough time to actually enjoy your meal.

2.    Sit down and remove distractions. Whether you are at home, the office, or even a restaurant, make it a point to prepare your place to eat. Sit down at a table or desk and set phones, computers, or work files to the side. This is not the time to check your social media or cram in one more thing on your to-do list; this is your time to fuel and nourish your body.

3.    Eat with intention. Focus on your meal. What are you eating? What are the flavors? If you made it yourself, can you taste the spices you used? What is the texture? Pay attention to how you cut the food. After you take a bite, set down your utensils. Chew for several seconds; don’t gulp. After you swallow, notice any flavors that linger in your mouth. Then, pick up your utensils and prepare another bite.

Food should be fuel for your body and should be something you enjoy. Reflect on your eating habits. If your habits do not reflect this, your eating might require a little more mindfulness.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Sweet Potato Pancakes

If you are looking to change things up for breakfast, try these sweet potato pancakes! Subtly sweet and a great grain free alternative. Since I am feeding 3 growing boys, finding clean burning carbs is something I am always looking for.

Serves 4

  • 16 oz. (450g) sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into cubes
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • ¼ cup (30g) walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup

What you need to do

  • Cook the sweet potatoes in a pot of boiling water for around 15 minutes. Then drain and let it cool.
  • Place the cooked potatoes in a high bowl, add the eggs and cinnamon, and blend with a hand blender until smooth.
  • Heat ¼ tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and add 3 portions of batter (around 2 heaped tablespoon per pancake). Fry the pancakes for about 3 minutes until golden brown and done. Turn halfway and repeat with the remaining batter.
  • Divide the pancakes onto plates (3 per serving), sprinkle with the chopped nuts and drizzle with maple syrup, to serve.
To my middle – It’s your last day of elementary school

To my middle – It’s your last day of elementary school

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing a letter to your older brother and I am still having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that it is your turn.  Facebook popped up memories of your Kindergarten graduation and I about became a puddle.  I still remember that day vividly.  You, our shy introvert, had a speaking part in the program and we were so excited to see you shine.  Those pictures will forever make me smile when I see them.

“The smiles would grow on our face, when we tackled something new.  You could watch our sparkling eyes light up and our teacher’s eyes glisten too.”

– Parker & Kate – TCE Kindergarten Graduation

When I wrote a letter to your big brother, everything felt more uncertain, more unknown.  It doesn’t feel that way now, we have been down this road already, but it doesn’t make this day any less monumental for you. While the next steps seem less scary, I have to remind myself that your little mind and heart are still processing a lot of change.

Your “clap out” is happening today.  A tradition that I am glad the school hung on to, despite all the weirdness of this year.  I have a strong feeling that there will be some tears brewing behind those eyes, but I doubt you will let them show.  You present as strong and steady, but I have seen some of the impact of the microfractures of this year (or better coined “emotional concussions”).  There were the quiet disappointments of all the activities that never took place. I know you knew you were missing them, because you saw your big brother get to experience them, but despite the fact you still found joy in every day.  Keep finding that joy.  

A baseball batting coach called you “smiles”  instead of Parker and it stuck.  In a year where the world tried to hide kids’ identities… you held firmly to that smile and flashed it whenever and wherever you could.  You have now idea how much such a simple act like that can change someone’s day, but that quality makes us proud.

A few things that we want you to know:

Middle school is not unknown, it is not even scary,  it is actually a lot of fun. 

Leaving the safe nest of your elementary bubble is not unknown either, we have navigated it now and you have a big brother there to help.  

You are ready.

You are actually more than ready.

You will rock middle school.

You have had an amazing group of teachers over the past few years and especially a team that fought hard for you when the world went nuts.  The amount of time and effort poured into you and your class is a priceless experience in all the chaos.  Your dad and I are beyond grateful for that.  

You have a core group of friends that are LIFE GIVING.  Don’t ever take that for granted.  I pray you realize how special they are.  

Your core group of friends are also full of far too creative minds, this will get you into some trouble.  Be a leader, when you make a bad choice, own it.  Learning from your mistakes, can be the best life teacher.

You found strength in responsibility and learned quickly that prioritizing your time and working efficiently were always worth it.

You didn’t complain about the missed events.  You rolled with the punches and I am sure you are more resilient now. I hate that you had to become more resilient, but like we always say, you can’t control what happens around you, but you can be responsible for your response.  Your character is what matters.

Remember that it is okay to show cracks, to be vulnerable.  It’s what you do with the cracks, how you handle your attitude that matters. 

You had a lot of “life” conversations this year.  We talked a lot about leading and not being a follower.  Never be afraid to ask questions even if it goes against the majority, keep asking, keep seeking truth. Remember, it is okay to be uncomfortable.  

The important thing is to never stop questioning.

– Albert Einstein

I pray you learn how to understand yourself better and that you know when you need to unplug and recharge. Being an introvert is not a bad quality, even if it feels like it, since most of your friends are extroverts.  

Parker Tomás,  you are my gritty child.  The one that will alway give 110% and then gives a little more.  This quality will serve you well as you move on to your next adventure. Don’t ever lose that fight. That is a defining quality that makes you you.

Your dad and I couldn’t be more proud of you. Your kind heart is a special gift. Guard it wisely.  

So today on your last day of elementary school, remember your kindergarten lines, fire up that smile and remember it’s okay if those eyes are glistening because your mom’s eyes are glistening too.

To my first born son on your last day of elementary school.

To my first born son on your last day of elementary school.

How are we already here?  It seems just like yesterday, that you were climbing on the bus as a chubby, smiling 5 year old, barely looking back because you were so excited about the opportunity in front of you.  I know, I know every mom ahead of me always says, “don’t blink” or “enjoy the moment, it goes so fast”, but today, this momma feels like she blinked.

Today, in just a few hours,  you will have your “clap out” at school.  I wonder if you will smile and give high fives to all the little ones cheering you on or if behind your brave demeanor there will be tears brewing as you anticipate the changes ahead?  

Are you excited?  Are you scared? Did we help you enough?  Did we help you to much? And more importantly, did we let you fail enough? I saw you describe with big eyes, just how big the 8th graders looked when you visited your new school, but then in the same breath, you told me not to worry because you got this.

All of these questions are swirling through my head, but there are a few things I do know.  

I know you are ready.

I know that you have had a team of some of the most gifted teacher’s I have ever met.  They poured countless hours into both your education and your character. Your teachers over your elementary years were a very special group, the type I wish every kid had a chance to experience.

I know you have an innate ability to lead, but leading isn’t always fun.

I know you have always believed you could do or be anything you want.  

I know you are extremely confident, but sometimes you hide your cracks.  

I know you will love the new freedom and how classes evolve.

I know that you love to be challenged and are excited for what lies ahead (especially in math).

I know that you will love that your world is getting bigger.

I know that the way earlier start time is going to be a jolt to all our realities and I don’t see it starting off well.

But B. Bug, (and yes, I will continue to call you Bug) what this momma wants you to know on your last day of elementary school is that you are insanely loved.  That both your dad and I are extremely proud of you and who you are becoming.

We also want you to know that it is okay to fail.  It is okay to have cracks and that sometimes vulnerability is just as powerful as confidence.

We know that you will have some growing pains and friend transitions and that the world is not always kind, but remember you can not always control your circumstances, but you can control how you respond. Sports have taught you this well, but continue to remember that you are responsible not only for your actions, but for your attitude as well.

We want you to know that it is exactly the same in sports as it is in school or really anywhere in life. We have never cared if you win or lose, but that you gave it your all. As your dad likes to say, “It’s attitude and effort.”

We want you to know that you see injustice and as you grow you will see more battles to fight, but pick the ones that matter the most in the big picture and don’t waste energy on the ones that don’t (your mother is still learning this).

So, to my first born son on your last day of elementary school, we saw some cracks this week. Those little moments when fear or emotions overtook, but please enjoy every moment of this next phase, because as this mom knows it goes to fast.

And today I realized I blinked.

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