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#Swag For The Little Ones

I hope everyone had an awesomely relaxing and happy holiday weekend, at least for those in the States celebrating it! For that matter, I just hope everyone on the whole globe had an awesome weekend. World peace would be awesome, you know? Anyway, I’m taking a pause from my big blog transitioning week to actually post something. Yes, you heard read correctly – this is the week that this blog gets a makeover. She’ll be a whole new girl by the weekend, fingers crossed all goes well! So far, I’ve been using WordPress.com for free hosting which has been A.Maze.Ing, and it was super nice of them to let me basically sleep on their couch for free while I got this whole endeavor underway; but it is long overdue for me to go out on my own. It also means moving over to a whole new server and getting a bit of a new look, as well. Stay tuned!

If things get weird and glichy, I apologize in advance and totally appreciate your patience. Please cross your fingers for me. #technologyisscary

Aaaaanyway, let’s talk about some stuff. Like, literal stuff. The kind we buy for our kids. I’ve always been fascinated when I’ve read bloggers writing about their fav baby and kid items (like Bower Power and Young House Love), because it’s interesting how some items are to-die-for-could-never-live-without for one parent… and yet completely useless for another. I thought I would contribute to the convo, so without further ado, here are my fav baby and kid items of all time. BTW, this post is not sponsored at all… just my humble opinions.

For the Preschool+ Crowd

#Swag For The Little Ones, Fav Kid Gear | Painting Sunny

  1. Crayola My First Crayola Triangular Crayons (16 count), $4.05. These are cute, so much less likely to break, and I’ve successfully washed them off walls. A few times.
  2. Melissa & Doug Animal Magnets in a Box, $11.99. The best part about these is that the whole back of each magnet is coated, instead of having a little magnetic choking hazard glued to the back like the old-fashioned ones I grew up with. They have held up for over 2 years for us, and still adorn our fridge today.
  3. Munchkin Shampoo Rinser, $6.00. We just moved into a place with two bathtubs, and the kids are reveling in it. Just a few months ago I picked this up and it is worth way more than the 6 bucks I paid for it. It is genius with no parts or grooves to get mildewy and need cleaned, a soft edge that bends against your baby’s head to direct the water away from their eyes, and even comes in pretty colors. Swoon.
  4. Nubby Super Spout Easy Gripper (2 count), $7.11. We are just transiting out of these and into straight-up water bottles, but I couldn’t even tell you how many Nubbys we owned over the years. They were so easy to transition to after a bottle, and the price is right too.
  5. mabel label’s Basic Kit, $34.95. I am def adding a new pack to my shopping list for this year, since I’ve never tried the shoe or clothing labels and am convinced they will change my life. We have used the little labels on school supplies, lunch containers, sports equipment, and countless other things. Who knows how much money it has saved me in lost sippy cups and rain boots?
  6. EasyLunchboxes (Set of 4), $13.95. If you’ve been around Painting Sunny awhile, you know that I have quickly become devoted to these lunchboxes. They aren’t just a lunchbox, they are a lifestyle. Affordable, well-made and kid-friendly… join me on this bandwagon.
  7. SweetPea3 2 GB MP3 Player for Kids, $84.88. This was a holiday gift a few years ago from the Grandparents, and although the price is an investments I also can’t imagine traveling anywhere at length without one. The kids use it in the house or on road-trips, and it’s a great break from DVDs to keep them entertained. The sound quality is good, they can work it themselves, and I’m pretty convinced it’s indestructible.
  8. Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Figure Eight Train Set, $22.96. Of all the wooden train sets out there, this one has my seal of approval. It beats out almost any competitor in price, is compatible with other brands, and the track is reversible which is awesome. Gotta love M&D, am I right?
  9. My Big Sticker Book of Nursery Rhymes, $19.10. We have a variety of these (courtesy of the grandparents) and I see our son toting them around the house regularly. The stickers are easy to move, the book is really well made, and the book itself makes good reading.
  10. Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat, $138.95. Our entire backseat is full of these right now. Literally. Both kids use them, with the 3.5 year old using it with the full harness still, and the almost-7 year old using the high-back booster option. It is seriously convertible, and the price is really appealing when you take a look at the car seat market. We’ve had one for 4 years now that is still holding up.

With my own being 3.5 and almost 7, this is definitely the stage we are in and loving it. I miss the cute little baby toes, but whole new worlds of toys, decorations, and adventures opens up with you hit that 3+.

Now, in reverse chronological order…

For the Baby & Infant Peeps

#Swag For The Little Ones, Fav Kid Gear | Painting Sunny

  1. Carter’s Fleece Baby Blanket, $29.95. Ours has duckies on it, and is one of the most valuable positions in this house. Blankie is a family member, and the couple times we thought he was lost I think I would have paid 1k to get him back. Our son still sleeps with his every night, it consoles him when he is sad or tired, and it was a major relief he began self-soothing pretty early on.
  2. Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo, $99.00. This thing entertained two kids for us, and still was in almost-new shape when I re-sold it to a consignment shop for almost what I paid for it. It was hard to believe, but it was just well-made and both kids loved it in that stage where they want to be up looking around but need some support. No lie, it takes up some square footage of your living room… but if frees up your arms, so who can be made at that?
  3. BabyBjörn Baby Carrier Original, $71.99. Okay, we had the plain old black carrier, but if they had this pretty option when I was pregnant the first time I totally would have sprang for it. Of all the carriers I’ve tried out, this tride-and-true version worked best with our little ones who always seemed like little furnaces and hated being snuggled up too close for too long.
  4. Vicks Behind Ear Thermometer, $29.89. When our son was 2 we reached that point that the cheap little armpit thermometers were just not doing the trick… and when you think your kid has a fever, it isn’t a time you want to be frustrated trying to work something with tiny buttons. This was a great investment for our whole family.
  5. Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back Diaper Bag, $139.95. Full disclosure, I did not have this actual backpack diaper-bag but I totally wish I did. We did go the back-pack style route with our diaper bag (which I can’t find online now) however, and were so glad we did. It kept our arms more free, saved us back-aches, and made organizing items much easier. Sigh – this one is so cute, someone please buy it so I can live vicariously…
  6. Philips Avent BPA Free Soothie Pacifier (2 count), $3.20. Our son was in the NICU, so came back with some of these famous green Soothie pacifiers. They were the only binkies he would use, and I loved that they were affordable, easy to clean, and didn’t have parts that would break easily.
  7. Munchkin Deluxe Dishwasher Basket, $3.82. I’d never lived in a home with a dishwasher until our son was born, and it was one of those moments when the sky opens up and you hear a church choir singing. This basket was ran through our dishwasher daily, and held an impressive amount.
  8. Panasonic Automatic 3 Cup (Uncooked) Rice Cooker, $29.95. Yep, you’re thinking I added this to the wrong list aren’t you? Well, HA! It totally belongs. I made all of our baby food at home for the kids, and it was much more healthy and affordable than buying the little jars. It was also super easy, which I think a lot of people don’t realize. But what made it affordable was that I did not buy one of those fancy baby-food making systems. In my opinion, they basically just do the same thing as a steamer. I used this Panasonic rice cooker (it also steams veggies) for both kids, and still use it for rice cooking today.
  9. Bright Starts Lots of Links, $4.99. Who doesn’t end up with a million of these? They are great for carseats, strollers, those playmat things… We had them everywhere.
  10. Jeep Liberty Sport X All-Terrain Stroller, $179.99. This is the piece de resistance. It has a built-in music player, can go on basically any terrain, it’s basket holds everything… It’s just amazing. I’ve owned a few strollers, but after we had this one I would never betray it. If my husband picked one favorite baby item, I’m pretty certain it would be this. Hold on, let me go ask him. Yep, he said the stroller.

Anyone else cook all their own baby food? Completely disagree with me about the fancy baby-food machines? Love your stroller so, so much you refuse to give it up? Want to label everything your kid owns?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.

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The School Lunch Round-Up: End of Summer Fast Approaching

Summer may be coming quickly to a close, but the lunches just keep coming! With a soon-to-be-1st-grader in summer day-camp and a preschooler doing his thing in preschool, every evening means taking a few minutes in the kitchen to ensure they are well-fed little ones the next day. With one swimming sometimes twice a day and the other being a 3-year-old… they both have a lot of energy they need kept fueled.

After sharing these first five lunches and then this update with five more, I noticed a trend and decided to just go with it. Thus begins a series of school lunch round-ups, brought to you at the end of every month when I pick five fab examples and share them with ya’ll.

As always, I’m using Easylunchboxes, the Mini-Dippers by the same brand, and Wilton Reusable Baking Cups. Heart them all so much!

School Lunch Round-Up: blueberry oatmeal muffins,  colby jack cheese cubes, a banana half, Kashi 7 Grain crisps, and baby-cut carrots | Painting Sunnyblueberry oatmeal muffins,  colby jack cheese cubes, a banana half, Kashi 7 Grain crisps, and baby-cut carrots

School Lunch Round-Up: mix of white and blue tortilla chips, seasoned black beans, colby jack cheese cubes, kiwi slices, and red grapes halved | Painting Sunnymix of white and blue tortilla chips, seasoned black beans, colby jack cheese cubes, kiwi slices, and red grapes halved

School Lunch Round-Up: whole wheat English muffin PBJ (or PB alternative), Chobani yogurt tube, blueberries from the local Farmer's Market, and thinly sliced cucumber | Painting Sunnywhole wheat English muffin PBJ (or PB alternative), Chobani yogurt tube, blueberries from the local Farmer’s Market, and thinly sliced cucumber

School Lunch Round-Up: mini-bagel with butter and strawberry jam, baby-cut carrots, Chobani yogurt tube, watermelon chunks, and cucumber chunks | Painting Sunnymini-bagel with butter and strawberry jam, baby-cut carrots, Chobani yogurt tube, watermelon chunks, and cucumber chunks

School Lunch Round-Up: slices of naan bread, hummus (in container), string cheese, sliced peach, and baby-cut carrots | Painting Sunnyslices of naan bread, hummus (in container), string cheese, sliced peach, and baby-cut carrots

I’m going for at least one vegetable and fruit every day, whenever possible, as well as getting a solid protein in there. These lunches are vegetarian as Haven doesn’t eat meat and they are both fine without it for lunch anyway.

Noticed there are three snacks there too? Haven’s day-camp asks that we send two snacks (one for morning, one for afternoon) and Diallo wants one in his lunchbag too, just for the sake of fairness. He usually eats his cereal bar in the morning on the way to school, since his preschool actually provides snacks twice a day – usually grown in their own school garden or from a local farmer or bakery!

Want more inspiration? Check out more lunches with me on Pinterest or peruse the EasyLunchBlog!

Anyone else go through naan bread in their family like crazy? Eating three peaches a day while they are in season? Cutting up cucumbers in a variety of styles to entice your children?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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Let’s Do Lunch Again Sometime

Like, today. Or even better, every day this week!

Consider this the third installment of my learning-to-pack-school-lunches trilogy. Kind of like Mockingjay is to the Hunger Games, or Breaking Dawn is to Twilight. Let’s not even get into Harry Potter, those things go on and on. Didn’t their high school last 8 years or something? Can you imagine basically living through high school twice?

Okay, let’s put that nightmare aside and get back to business. When I realized I was about to begin packing lunches for the kids for the first time ever, I did my research and planned compulsively accordingly, then I went ahead and jumped right into it with my first full week. Since then, I’ve tried a couple things again, found some things that didn’t work and a few that were quite successful, and remembered to a few photos along the way. I think it’s best if we start with the successes. Let’s the games begin!

More School Lunches:  PBJ on whole wheat English muffin, string cheese, diced watermelon, and cinnamon Chex cereal | Painting Sunny

PBJ on whole wheat English muffin, string cheese, diced watermelon, and cinnamon Chex cereal

More School Lunches: Blueberry oatmeal muffin, cubed cheese, wheat crackers, baby carrots, diced cucumbers, and ranch dip | Painting SunnyBlueberry oatmeal muffin, cubed cheese, wheat crackers, carrots, cucumbers, and ranch dip

More School Lunches: Cheese quesadilla, salsa, sliced grapes, and cinnamon Chex cereal | Painting SunnyCheese quesadilla, salsa, sliced grapes, and cinnamon Chex cereal

More School Lunches: Bagel sliced with butter and jam, blueberry oatmeal muffin, Greek yogurt tube, diced watermelon, and baby carrots | Painting SunnyBagel sliced with butter and jam, blueberry oatmeal muffin, Greek yogurt tube, diced watermelon, and baby carrots  More School Lunches: Naan bread slices, vegetable hummus, baby carrots, string cheese, and sliced grapes | Painting Sunny

Naan bread slices, vegetable hummus, baby carrots, string cheese, and sliced grapes

Yes, one of the challenges is keeping the kids hands out of the lunch boxes the night before. Those grapes go missing so easily…More School Lunches:  | Painting Sunny

Those blueberry oatmeal muffins have been a hit. Remember when I baked them? I froze about half of them still in the silicone baking cups, and when I’m packing lunches in the evening (to be eaten the next day) I just pop them into the lunch box and they have thawed the next morning. Voila!

I almost always accidentally write viola and then have to correct it to voila. It would make no sense to be talking about violas right now.

As always, these lunches were made with EasyLunchboxes and the Mini-Dippers containers by the same brand (those are Amazon affiliate links). I’m not paid or perked to mention any brands, I just really have loved using them! They work out perfectly for our family. Check out their blog for a mega-ton of ideas, too.

Another success has been the No-Nut Pea Butter – the boy totally eats it! So far as I know he hasn’t noticed it’s not real peanut butter. When it runs out, I am totally trying out a few other things, though… thank you all for the awesome suggestions! You are my mentors on this journey.

What has not panned out the way I hoped? Just one thing that was so overwhelming disdained by the children it shall never be repeated. Cold macaroni and cheese. You would have thought I’d sent lumps of charcoal and stewed spinach by their reactions. In my defense, it was homemade delicious mac and cheese and personally I like cold mac and cheese. That, apparently, is not a hereditary trait.

Someone asked me what lunch bags I use. Good question, my friend! There is a link to a similar one to the type I picked up at Target right here. Ours looks a bit different (the front pocket Velcros rather than zips). I bought three of them, two blue and one black so we would have a spare in case a grown-up in the household wanted to pack a lunch or if one didn’t make it home. It’s worked out awesomely. Like, the boxes fit easily but snugly inside, nothing shifts around, the front pocket holds snacks and the top mesh compartment fits an ice pack. It’s like I designed a cooler bag just for my purposes, which never happens for me!

Anyone else tried to feed their kids cold mac and cheese? Others weirdos like me who prefer their pasta or pizza less-than-hot?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming!

I cannot wait until this place is finally, totally settled-into! Moving is rough stuff, seriously. For the sake of motivation, I have promised myself some gifts after the last cardboard box is recycled. Firstly, one of those crazy colored orchids from the grocery store. You know the ones I mean… that are strangely, unnaturally blue or purple and for some reason draw you in. I want to see how long I can actually keep the thing alive for. Anyone want to place a bet?

Secondly, the time and supplies to take on a few projects to spruce the place up and get my creative fingers busy again. Here are a few ideas knocking around inside my head Pinterest board…

Large-Scale Paintings, Inspired By:

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

I love to paint and we have some decent-sized wall-space in the new place, on the living room and Master bedroom walls. I am ready to make some pieces that make an impact! The dark blue in the above inspiration really appeals to me, along with those touches of gold in both… sigh. So pretty.

Smaller, Unique Artwork, Inspired By:

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Nothing makes a home feel more cozy than artwork tucked into little nooks and spaces. Besides books, which like automatically domesticate your home. And make you look smart. Anyway, how cute are those Ikea prints? Very, but they are a little too small, so I may need to make some custom-sized similar work myself. And don’t you just love Our Fifth House?

DIY Lamps, Inspired By:

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

(already made lamps here: )

Our new apartment doesn’t have overhead lighting in any of the living or bedroom areas, so as soon as I get my hand’s on some worthy second-hand candidates I need to stock up on lamps. Yes, this is the second time I’ve linked over to that gold-dotted lamp. I am seriously crushing on it. It’s so unique and original. Click over to the original links for all of the lamps, please! The lamps all look so much more clean and modern compared to the before pictures, it’s amazing!

You may recall I already DIYed some lamps I looove, so check them out!

Home-Made (and Mama-Made, So Even Better) Quilts for Kid’s Rooms, Inspired By:

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

I think a hand-made quilt is a great way to show someone you love them and really care about them. Care enough to sweat over a finickly sewing machine covered in bits of thread and interfacing. That is true love, my friend. I think quilts can also make a really lasting heirloom when done well, and making some for my own kid’s is hitting the top of the to-do list. Aren’t these three sweet? I’m definitely in the mood for stripes, but that rag-style quilt would fit in perfectly with my girl’s room!

Head-Bands For The Girl’s Fall School Wardrobe, Inspired By:

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

I am definitly going to use this inspiration to engineer some child-sized head-bands with cute fabrics, before H starts 1st grade in September. I swear, our girl could never start school with enough hair accessories. She is obsessed. This is a great scrap-busting project, too.

As you can tell, Pinterest is a pretty comfortable place for me these days. Please come on over and join me for some QPT! That is “Quality Pinning Time.”

Anyone else planning at least two years out on their projects? Sentimental about sewing quilts for a loved-one, or just need some &$%# lighting around their house?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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The First Five: School Lunch Updates, Celebrating One Full Week!

We survived our first week! Surprisingly well, I might add. Well, at least when it comes to lunches… we are figuring all the rest out, too. I received a couple of requests for an update when I had some lunches under my belt… well, the kid’s belts anyway. JK, kid’s don’t wear belts. Or at least mine don’t… except for seat-belts, obviously. I hope that was obvious. Anyway, I feel completely off track now.

Here is a break-down of what I put together for the first five days, and at least for the most part they seem to have been a hit with both kids! That almost qualifies for a miracle.

BTW, I’m using Easylunchboxes brand boxes and loooooove them! The Mini-Dipper containers are pretty nifty too. (Those are Amazon affiliate links). I’m not paid or perked to say nice things about them; they are just working out really well for us!

Day 1: Monday

School Lunch Idea, Day 1: Cheese, crackers, watermelon, muffin, dried mango | Painting Sunny

Cheese, crackers, watermelon, dried mango, and an apple-cinnamon oat-bran muffin

The muffins… well, did not turn out well. I went back and read the reviews and apparently the original recipe left out a couple things that would have helped, so I’m determined to try again. Also, notice those snacks set out along the side? My daughter needs two snacks sent along for her day camp, too. Those are a fruit & grain bar (generic brand) and some goldfish crackers/pretzels mixed together.

Day 2: Tuesday

School Lunch Idea, Day 2: Tortilla chips, salsa, berries & grapes, yogurt, dried mango | Painting Sunny

Tortilla chips, salsa (hidden in the little dip holder), berries & cut-up grapes, Greek yogurt, dried mango

I love those Chobani yogurt tubes, and so do the kids – and honestly, if they are on sale they can be more affordable than regular yogurts. I buy the big 16-pack at one time. They just barely folded in half to fit in the boxes!

Day 3: Wednesday

School Lunch Idea, Day 3: Mini Bagel, hummus, apple, string cheese, carrots | Painting Sunny

Mini Bagel, hummus (hidden in the little dip holder), apple, string cheese, carrots

So, I read a few somewheres that if you tossed apple slices with orange juice until they were lightly coated, they would not brown. I wasn’t there at lunch time when the kids got them out, but I can vouch that it appeared to work in the morning; I tossed the slices in the juice and they immediately stopped browning an stayed fresh looking through the entire packing process. Cool, right?

Day 4: Thursday

School Lunch Idea, Day 4: Quesadilla, watermelon, peas, muffin | Painting Sunny

Cheese quesadilla, watermelon, peas, muffin

This was a quick one to make! The kids had watermelon and peas for dinner the night before, so it was easy to put some in the lunchboxes at the same time I added it to their dinner plate. They don’t mind eating any of the stuff cold (they can’t heat their lunches at school, so it is all straight from their cooler bag). I made the quesadilla the night before with just some shredded cheese and a tortilla, and they each got half of one.

Day 5: Friday

   School Lunch Idea, Day 5: PBJ (or nut free butter), string cheese, apple, carrots, red peppers | Painting Sunny

PBJ (or nut free butter), string cheese, apple, carrots, red peppers

Lo’s has a blue note visible in the photo (later stuck to the top of the lunchbox) explaining that it is not peanut butter but “No-Nut” brand butter made from peas. I know, crazy, right? We will see how he likes it… I’ve never used it before! His preschool is nut-free, so I wanted to try out an alternative. The jar is expensive, but it is only him eating it for an occasion lunch, so I think it’ll be alright. Haven likes red bell papers and Lo doesn’t (honestly, I can’t stand them either) and since we had half of one in the fridge I added that to just hers.

You might notice that there is no meat in any of the lunches; Haven doesn’t eat meat (her own adamant choice when she was five) and Diallo does, but it is just easier to pack the same lunch for both of them. He can have meat at dinner, and I don’t think he really needs it more than when he is at home. It’s mostly just because it’s easier this way, and he doesn’t seem to miss it.

Anyone else trying out peanut-butter alternatives? Heard of this apple-dipped-in-orange-juice phenomenon? Hate a food that your kid loves? Please, share any other lunch ideas! I’m bound to run out eventually…

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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Pin-Fail: Sidewalk Chalk Photo Props Are Cute If Your Kids Aren’t Afraid Of Dirt

You may recall this past week, when we happily celebrated Grandma June’s birthday after she arrived from the long 1/3-cross-country drive. I really enjoy DIYing something personalized for a birthday, and so even though we were in the midst of boxes I was inspired to make some cute, trendy, chalk-prop photos of the kids, just like these:

Look at those adorable and well-behaved children and the sweet little chalk sketches. Awww. Easy, right?

Wrong.

Really, really wrong.

Lest you have begun to think I totally know what I’m talking about and spend my days happily baking and crafting… this was the best I got:

(Disclaimer: the sidewalk was not hot at all; it was bright out but cool. I promise I wouldn’t make them lie on hot cement even for the sake of DIY… they just didn’t want to lie flat on the ground in case it was dirty, and weren’t sure what to do with their arms.)

Pin-Fail... Sidewalk Chalk Photo Props Clearly Did Not Work For Painting SunnyPin-Fail... Sidewalk Chalk Photo Props Clearly Did Not Work For Painting SunnyPin-Fail... Sidewalk Chalk Photo Props Clearly Did Not Work For Painting SunnyPin-Fail... Sidewalk Chalk Photo Props Clearly Did Not Work For Painting SunnyPin-Fail... Sidewalk Chalk Photo Props Clearly Did Not Work For Painting SunnyPin-Fail... Sidewalk Chalk Photo Props Clearly Did Not Work For Painting Sunny Granted, the sun was bright, so halfway through I realized I would get less-squinty photos if we moved to the shade… but the sunlight clearly wasn’t the problem. They both just didn’t want to lie down flat on the ground, which was sorta necessary for the little photo op to work. Oh well, they can’t all turn out, right?

Also, the scooters were there because I thought I could position them so it looked like the kids were riding on them. Not like they had just toppled from them onto hard pavement. Not quite the effect I was going for.

Anyone else having a total pin-fail? Have kids who don’t want to touch the dirt on sidewalks? Realize your kid’s fake tattoos that just will not fade probably look weird in pictures? Tell me I’m not alone! It seemed like a good idea, right?


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To Bento Or Not To Bento: The Pre-school Power Lunch (I’m about to learn a lot)

Somehow I’ve managed to avoid packing school lunches. It’s almost a miracle, really… and it’s about to change.

Both of the kids have solely attended daycare/preschools that provided lunch as well as morning/afternoon snacks, so the kids just ate a quick breakfast at home. When H began kindergarten last year, the price for a before-school breakfast and hot lunch was reasonable and her school had good quality, healthy and wholesome food; so we just loaded funds onto her school account. We did pack a morning snack for her and chipped in to the afternoon snacks her teacher collected. We got really lucky that the arrangements were so easy. Now, in a week H is attending summer camp where she needs to bring a packed lunch and Lo will be at a preschool where all students bring their own lunches (healthy morning/afternoon snacks are provided). I figure when September rolls around, it makes sense to keep packing lunches for both kids since one will need it anyway.

There are some awesome resources out there for brown-bagging it… interestingly, none of them recommend actual brown bags. I’ve really enjoyed reading about the creative/affordable/healthy/convenient ideas people have for their kid’s lunches and wanted to share for anyone else in the same boat.

The Best Bloggety Resource Out There

Okay, this lady is the coolest. Seriously. Her name is Melissa and she writes the super-helpful-to-me-anyway blog Another Lunch. I have no recollection of how I stumbled upon her posts, except probably after some serious Googling sessions and it has been the number one best resource. I feel like we’re friends already. Melissa, I promise not to stalk you, please don’t leave!

Another Lunch has not only cute lunch ideas, but some practical tips and most helpful of all, reviews and recommendations on tools for packing lunches. Full confession: I have no intention of packing lunches as adorable as hers. I just don’t have it in me. I do want to prepare lunches as healthy and well-rounded as hers, and I think a lot of the same tools will help me pack quick and well-received lunches for both kids. Each lunch she posts about includes a description of what she used to make it, and links to the products on the bottom.

Lunching Paraphernalia

Yeah, when you’re starting from scratch with this, it takes some tools. I’m keeping it simple for now, at least – no need to pick up a bunch of extra things to cut sandwiches into elephants and so on at this point… I just need stuff to put the food in:

  • After reading this How To Start post from Another Lunch and this round-up and review of lunch containers from 100 Days of Real Food, I went with the EasyLunchboxes which I ordered off Amazon and am waiting to be delivered. It’s awesome it comes in a set of four for less than $14!
  • Since I know I will be packing mostly finger foods and the kids don’t like things to mix together too much, I also tossed some Wilton re-usable baking cups, and Mini-Dippers (also from EasyLunchboxes) into my Amazon cart. It also brought me up to the $25 to get free shipping, which is nice. A lot of lunch ideas I’ve seen use the baking cups to create additional compartments.
  • Also on the recommendation of Another Lunch’s guide, I will wait until the lunchboxes get here and take one to Target to buy lunch bags that fit them. I really want to check the bags out in person, to be sure they have good insulation – neither kid will be able to use a refrigerator.
  • I’ll pick up some ice packs at some point, too. Any recommendations? Water filled vs. gel filled?

(also, I just spelled paraphernalia correctly on the first attempt. I deserve something for that.)

Pinning For A Good Lunch

I went a little pin-crazy on a Pinterest board, looking up lunch ideas. I’m hoping if I find myself stumped while making a grocery list, I might be able to refer back and come up with a couple realistic ideas. There are some other kick-ass boards with kid’s lunch ideas too (about half on the practical side and half on the shaping-food-like-panda-bears side) – check out this one and this one! EasyLunchboxes also have their own Pinterest boards too. No offense to anyone shaping their kids food like panda bears… I’m just not there yet.

To Bento Or Not To Bento

Our preschool recommends going for finger-food style packed lunches vs. the traditional brown-bag sandwich/fruit/chips/milk combo. This rings true for my own kids, who tend to love snack-ish items such as cheese cubes, fruit, carrots, and so on… but often don’t finish a whole sandwich or big item. Using a compartmental lunch box also allows me to add leftovers from dinner when there is something I think they are likely to eat cold the next day, like some pastas or pizza. We also have one kid who eats meat and the other doesn’t, so adding little bits of different things makes sense for us.

However, this strategy is not what a lot of people mean by bento. Check out the links I’ve listed above and you will see lunches with shapes cut out, cute little picks used to hold food, and very detailed themes. It has become a fad in some areas, from what I can tell online – and a lot of time can be spent turning a kids lunch into something creative and cute. I’m not sure this is my style, but for a lot of people it is worth it and a family bonding activity. What do you think? Over the top or a special treat? Maybe just on birthdays, or if the kid is old enough to work on it themselves? Or do you just stick to the traditional PBJ?

Going Nut-Less

Yes, I know. There was no real way to write it that didn’t come across that way, so I just went for it.

I totally support nut-free classrooms. It’s about safety, and I know I want care, respect, and kindness towards my children if they are ever in that boat. It is a challenge, though, and Lo’s new classroom is not only peanut-free but completely nut-free. Lo loooooves peanut butter – it is very much a staple in his diet. Because of this, I’m hoping to try out some peanut-butter-alternatives such as a soy-butter. Any experience with this, good or bad?

Wish me luck in the world of lunch-packing, and please drop me any suggestions, recommendations, and opinions! Especially if you have a magical peanut-butter-fake-that-tastes-delicious!

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.