Back to School Ninja

Code Ninjas is having a #BackToSchoolNinja contest right now so I took a picture of Fritz, my black and blue ninjas, all ready to go back to school.

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Weight Loss App for Kids

Adrian has put on a lot of weight since he chose to go off Adderall in October. There were so many side effects that we didn’t realize were happening. He’s still incredibly picky. And then there’s the weight. He’s like he was as a baby with the most incredible and adorable fat rolls again. But, he’s getting close to obese and that really is a problem so something needs to be done just to help him make good food habits. That will help him throughout his life whether he loses one single pound or not.

When Fritz was a bit younger than Adrian is now, he had to take a course of steroids for pneumonia. He packed on weight due to those steroids. He never got as close to the obese line as Adrian is now, but we had some conversations about eating and moving more. He often ate out of boredom so he trained himself to ask whether he was bored or hungry. He tried some healthy snacks and discovered he really likes carrot sticks. We started taking PokeWalks together. It works. He’s firmly in the normal weight category now and has some healthy habits that will serve him well as he gets older.

Adrian’s a little more complicated. He would rather hide behind a chair than do the 7 Minute Workout with his brother. He’d rather sit and play video games than take Lola for a walk. He will only consent to eat a handful of foods. He admits he eats out of boredom, but sees no reason to change. And he really responds well to apps with positive reinforcement.

So we downloaded the Kurbo app to see how that would go for him. The answer? Terrible.

Kurbo sorts foods into three categories based on a stoplight. Green, Yellow, and Red. I disagree so strongly with the fact that most foods – particularly “kid” foods are put into the red category. Apple juice, 2% milk, and soda are all red foods. The problem is they are not at all equal. Apple juice and milk actually have nutritional benefits, while soda is a treat. Two foods Adrian is willing to eat are mac and cheese and rice and cheese. They are red. Each week the kid gets 24 red foods. And that’s it. Sure, they can say they are encouraging the kid to eat more green foods (fruits and veggies), but what I saw in Adrian was a very different result.

Within just a few hours of using the app, Adrian developed a crazy obsession with what color a food is. He refused to eat even one Taki when his sister offered it to him (he loves Takis) because it was a red and would use up one of his allotted reds for the week. Because he likes few fruits and vegetables at this point, he determined to just starve rather than eat because most of what he wanted to eat would use up a red. He ate an apple for breakfast, but refused the peanut butter that would’ve made it a very healthy meal. The reason? Peanut butter is red.

Needless to say he is not using the Kurbo app anymore.

But he still likes the idea of an app. So we got to thinking and are trying to figure out how to make an app just for him to help him learn to make good choices, move more, and learn about portion control (that is the one thing I like about Kurbo – it has an easy to understand chart for how to measure portions using your hand).

Obviously the value judgment of foods by color would not be included in his app. Food is food. It keeps us alive. Obviously some foods are healthier than others, but kids know red on a stoplight means stop. Saying a food is red communicates a meaning to the kid. It means don’t eat this. So my mom came up with sorting food based on the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Sun foods are fruits and vegetables. Those don’t get limited in any way. There’s no serving size to think about. Grab and apple or a banana and be one your way (no writing down every bite either). The sun makes fruits and vegetables grow so it makes sense that they’d be in that category.

Almost all foods fit in the moon category. The moon changes just like serving sizes change depending on the food. The moon reminds us to measure or portion out those foods. If he wants two servings of mac and cheese because he’s still hungry after one, that’s okay! Just as long as he eats one serving or portion at a time.

Then there is the stars, the only category that gets tracked because we only want to eat them occasionally. We don’t get stars on our papers all the time, but when we do it is special and we feel good. Foods in the star category are those foods we should only eat sparingly according to the food guide pyramid. If he wants butter on his popcorn, he can certainly use a star for it. If he wants to drink a root beer because we’re at a restaurant for dinner, that’s fine, too. Each week he would get 14 stars to use as he pleases.

To encourage him to move at least 10 minutes a day, he can earn an extra star each day. Pretty much that’s doing the 7 Minute Workout with Fritz and walking (which usually is running when the boys take her for a “walk”) Lola. It’s his choice to do this, but we strongly encourage it because even a little bit of exercise a day can make a big difference long term.

Hopefully we’ll figure out how to make this app for Adrian. The ultimate goal is really to help him form healthy habits related to food and exercise now. If he drops down into the normal weight category, that would be great, though it would also be great if he just stayed the same weight as he grows because my boys may start out on the shorter side, they do eventually sprout upward (that’s actually exactly what Fritz has done – he’s stayed the same weight give or take a few pounds ever since he started thinking about whether he was hungry or not and exercising more). He just will definitely not be working toward that goal with Kurbo.

Lesson Planning

I’ve been doing a lot of lesson planning and getting assignments entered into Homeschool Planet over the last few weeks. We’re pretty much ready for school to start at the end of the month. Adrian will be a 6th grader, Fritz an 8th grader, and Cameron a senior in high school.

History, geography, science, and the arts will be through Layers of Learning again this year. We’re on year 4, modern history. We’re going to learn a lot of great stuff.

Fritz and Adrian will be doing Analytical Grammar, Beyond the Book Report, and Wordly Wise. All three boys will be doing Writer’s Workshop (which is new – and looks seriously awesome – from the Layers of Learning people).

Fritz and Adrian will be doing Teaching Textbooks for math. I was rather surprised when Adrian easily tested into pre-algebra. I shouldn’t be surprised. He’s been doing Math Mammoth for a few years and it’s really prepared him well. Fritz tested into Algebra I, but that was not a surprise at all. Cameron will be doing Khan Academy for math.

The younger two boys will be doing some test prep. They both need to learn how to do the whole bubble in an answer thing. In addition to basic test prep, Fritz will be doing some simple studying for the ACT and PSAT. He’ll be taking the PSAT for practice near the beginning of his 9th grade year so I figured now is a good time to start getting ready for it.

Fritz will be doing Visual Latin for his foreign language. Adrian’s going to keep doing Spanish, but he’s not going to do DuoLingo anymore. Instead we’re going to have him watch cartoons in Spanish with English subtitles and see how that works for him. There’s a lot of Netflix originals that allow you to do that, including some he’s watched in English so he’s already aware of how the storyline goes.

Bullet Journal Update

I’m almost through the bullet journal I started in January. It’ll only last another month or two. I’m up to page 200 of 240. Anyway, it’s been a while since I posted pictures of my bullet journal so I took some pictures of August’s set up.

Each month I pick a theme that goes along with a holiday or whatever that happens some time during the month. Some months are easier than others. October is easy as is December. Some months aren’t obvious though like March or August. The theme always has an image or two I can draw and at least two colors. I ended going with a watermelon theme for this month using light pink, dark pink, light green, and black.

I’m still doing the menu calendar the same way. It has worked so well for meal planning and I can see at a glance what we haven’t eaten (the bubbles aren’t filled in) so I can rearrange or move to the next week easily.

The page after my menu calendar is the month at a glance calendar page. That page carries on the color theme and very quickly gets filled up when I transfer the month’s already scheduled activities from the future planning section to the monthly calendar page.

The next page is all my many to do’s. I’ve had so many people say they are overwhelmed just looking at that page, but it works for me and it really isn’t all that much stuff or time when you really break it down. I always have a bookmark in my bullet journal marking the monthly calendar and to do’s (they are facing pages).

The next page I added starting two or three months ago. It’s a tracker for exercise minutes and the number of steps I take each day (as reported by my Apple Watch). I don’t have any particular goal in mind each day and this is more for my own curiosity than anything else.

Facing the step page is a page to record the books I read that month and things I randomly think of during the month that I am grateful for. I number twelve spots for books because I usually finish 10-15 a month. I just add any past twelve in the space to the side. I continue my theme of the month in the gratitude section by making the places to write things down the image I came up with.

I no longer pre-make the daily pages before the month begins. I found that I was writing stuff until I ran out of space and then nothing else happened that day (even though other things did). So now I just start each day and write things down until the day ends and then start another day. Some days take up just a few lines while other take up half a page or more. I put some washi tape in between the days to divide them and add some stickers and my pages make me very happy.

I still love bullet journaling. It keeps me organized and lets me be creative, too. The little guys just started their own bullet journals, too, because they see how much I enjoy mine.

Code Ninjas

Fritz has been going to Code Ninjas for a little over a year now, ever since the center he goes to opened (we literally signed him up at the grand opening). Wednesday evening they had an open house and as part of it, they asked Fritz to talk a little bit about his experience there and challenges he’s had and overcoming them, kind of give some motivation for other kids who were there.

Fritz is the furthest ahead of all the students that attend that dojo. He’s nearly done with his green belt. He’s been working in JavaScript for about a year now and is getting pretty good at it. The next belt he’ll learn Lua.

Anyway, Fritz was so nervous, but he stood up and he spoke really well and was understandable and everything. We were so proud of him and he was so proud of himself. Since he turned 13 last month he’s suddenly matured a lot both in how he carries himself and how he looks. It’s kind of crazy and awesome, really, just how much he’s changed so fast.