Monthly Archives: September 2011

A date and cheese boats

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For our lunch date today Emma requested pancakes and cheese, two of her favorites. And so they had mini pancakes; she and Jenna had sight words written on theirs, Jaylen had a pirate and “ARGH!” on his and Jaiden, who prefers me not to write on her food, had candy eyes plus lipstick and eyelashes.

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In addition to the pancakes, they had strawberries, raspberries, Horizon organic yogurt Tubers and adorable little Babybel cheese boats!

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And this is where the fun nearly stops. There’s an air show this weekend and when I got to work this morning I found out their media event was about an hour prior to Emma’s lunchtime. As those things sometimes do, it went later than planned and I was late for our lunch date.

And I had Emma’s lunch box with me. Ugh. By the time I got there she had already finished a school lunch and spilled chocolate pudding all over herself. But she ran to me when she saw me, so I’m assuming she forgives me.

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We sat outside in a courtyard area and she ate most of what was in her lunch box while she chatted with me. She was excited to read the sight words, too. When she was done we joined the rest of her class in the hallway and went to her classroom. Emma didn’t want me to leave and it made me feel guilty, but I had to get back to work. It was great to spend one-on-one time with her, which is rare for the two of us.

Show & Share Friday

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We FINALLY made it to Friday! I thought it’d never come again.

I didn’t plan our meals this week and I’ve felt SO disorganized; for us, it definitely helps to have a plan. A little extra time on the front end saves A LOT of time on the backend.

In my flurry of morning activity today, I just pulled a bunch of things out of the fridge and made a few decisions. Today was a no frills lunch, really. They had a rolled up slice of ham, cubes of sharp cheddar, broccoli, Clementine oranges and either animal crackers or Cheez-its. On Fridays they get to choose between purchasing ice cream or something from the PTO concession stand so I intentionally do not pack treats.

I haven’t checked their containers yet but going off of what they said, broccoli came back from almost everyone and Jenna also didn’t eat her ham (“I don’t LIKE ham!” she says. “And not broccoli! Two things I DO NOT LIKE!” Whatever, she does too.) Jaiden didn’t eat all of her cheese today, she said, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jaylen came home with cheese too as he’s not a huge sharp cheddar fan (they only had 3 cubes each today).

One of my big questions when I started making my first bentos was what happened to the leftovers. It’s nice to cut these things out so they’re adorable, but I’m totally not going to wasting a ton of food, there’s just no reason for it. I try to find uses for them or eat them (or have the kids snack on them); with cheese, if I cut it with cutters, I’ll save the excess to be used in another dish, like grilled cheese or tacos. This morning I had half of a Granny Smith apple and half of a Clementine orange leftover between making their breakfast and lunch, so I packed them in a container with chunky slices of cheese (I’ve been cutting them from a block of sharp cheddar) and cashews for breakfast; I usually eat at my desk in the mornings but when I got to work today our office manager had brought sausage biscuits for everyone, so I had that instead and ate my fruit, cheese and nuts for lunch.

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Yesterday was my lunch date with Jaylen. So far I think we’re all enjoying weekly lunch dates; last week I talked about other benefits and in addition to those, having lunch with them allows me to get a better feel for how lunchtime goes and why some food comes back (a combination of time and being self-conscious, for instance). Next week is my first-ever lunch with Emma and I’m excited about it. I’ll let you know how that goes, of course!

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This last share has nothing really to do with bento boxes, except for the fact that the photo looks like a bento, but I wanted to share anyway. On Monday we woke up to cooler temperatures and I was inspired to make a warm, autumn-style breakfast. I had a ton of apples (red and green) and decided to make cinnamon apples to go with our Cream of Wheat; I also remembered we had plums and cherries so I added those too. It was SO GOOD! It was all very simple to make: dice your apples and plums, halve your cherries and remove the pits, dump your fruit into the bowl with 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine and add sugar and cinnamon to taste (I used granulated sugar this time, but I always use brown sugar); microwave for 8-10 minutes, let cool a little and eat!

My kids, even the ones who are picky as all get out, LOVED it. They said it was better than Chili’s and IHOP (which is a HUGE compliment as they’re big fans of the cinnamon apples at those restaurants) because it was homemade by Mommy. Aww. I had mine with a little hot Tazo tea as we were headed down the road to our friend’s dad’s house to shoot guns. (Have I mentioned we live in Tennessee?) We ate the leftovers for dessert after dinner, with some Back to Nature Apple Blueberry granola sprinkled on top for a little crunch, and it was even better! This will definitely be added to our list of faves.

Mama loves you

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It’s been a ‘clean the pantry’ type of week again, and we’re coming off of a long holiday weekend that’s thrown our routine off-kilter, so I haven’t been shooting photos like I usually do.

Monday was a bye, if you will, due to the holiday. Tuesday I wanted to do something quick and simple, so my younger three took ramen noodles, carrots and a cookie while Jaiden took her kids’ choice meal (that I forgot about last week!): nachos.

Wednesday, which is still ‘today’ for me since I worked late and am still up, I packed adorable little PB&J sandwiches with Cheerio eyes and carrot mouths, apple slices with a heart cut in and baby carrots. I had to include the speech bubble and a message for my babies, too.

We were running late this morning and two of the kids forgot their lunches, so Jaiden had a talking sandwich while the other two had school lunch (hot dogs, I imagine). Now I only have to pack lunch for Jaiden and myself, since tomorrow is my first lunch date of the year with the best son God could ever give a mother. I’m looking forward to it!

Kids’ Choice: PB&J and fishies

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Continuing with our kids’ choice theme, today PB&J was listed on the menu (my son love, love, loves PB&J). My girls didn’t want jelly, though, so we went with honey while Jaylen had homemade raspberry jam. A few weeks ago I saw these Pepperidge Farms Goldfish-Shaped sandwich thins and didn’t buy them, even though I wanted to, because the kids were still iffy on this type of bread. Of course they saw these on a commercial and decided they were cool, so the next time I went to the store I came home with these bad boys. Two points for the marketing geniuses because now at least another one of my children is willing to try sandwich thins.

We added a candy eyeball to eat little fishy, then I cut the cheese into short little octopi, cut carrots into some sort of seaweed, added marshmallow bubbles and then the apples were just going to be apples. I bought food safe markers at Walmart the other day (also: scored these on the clearance aisle!) and today was our first spin with them; one of Jaylen’s was a pirate octopus and he thought it was very cool.

Then, while I was taking a picture of his lunch, he and the girls decided they wanted to write on their sandwiches and cheese themselves. Jaylen gave Jaiden’s fish a red smile, Jenna colored her fish’s dots in blue.

And while I was taking the first photo, Jaiden decided the apple was a clam and the marshmallow a pearl. How creative is that?

Today was also the first day of mommy-kiddo lunch dates. Each Thursday I will have lunch with one of the kiddos; we kicked off today with Jaiden. I love having lunch with the kids; to me it’s interesting to watch them in their day-to-day environment, to see how they interact with their friends, to interact with her friends myself (some she’s had since Pre-K!), to spend time with the kids and to talk with them one-on-one.

The bonus for me is that three of the kids are at one school and they have lunch at very close times, so I get to see each of them sometimes (Jenna’s lunch is later than everyone else’s, so on her days that will not be the case). Emma goes to a completely different school and I don’t really know her friends (though I know some of their parents), so I’m looking forward to meeting them.

Going to lunch with the kids also gives me a chance to see my hard work the bentos in action! (For the record, I also made a bento lunch for myself containing the same things the kids were eating.)

You can see that Jaiden’s fish must have applied some lipstick when I wasn’t looking this morning!

I had to stop by Jaylen’s table to love on him and give him some chocolate milk and one of the kids’ former teachers told me she checks his lunch out every day when she walks by because she’s curious to see it (she called me the Martha Stewart of lunches, but I’m not quite there yet!); she said her favorite was the apple cut-out switcheroos during Elvis Week (that one’s a favorite among the family, too).

The student teacher in Jenna’s room also noticed her lunch today and thought I’d made the fish. Flattering, but nope! She went on and on about them and I thought it was nice that she was paying close enough attention to her that she knows what was in her lunch box. (Two points for you too, Ms. Jeanne!)

We’re supposed to have ham and cheese roll-ups tomorrow to close out the week, but Jaiden’s asked for hummus or nachos, so we’ll see what happens. The other two would likely be okay with sandwiches (I don’t think they’d touch hummus with a ten-foot pole).

When I wake up it’ll be Friday! I can’t wait. It’s been a long, frustrating week.