In science this week we've been studying the sun. And I remembered back in the day I bought the Girl some sun print paper. I managed to find it (yes!) but it said it should be used within 6 months. Hmm...
So I took out one sheet and threw some sharpies on it.
Ha! Like 8 years later and still good!
Alright then, let's make some sun prints! Though the packaging said 'Nature Prints'... we only printed toys. Toy prints.
If you've never done this, it's really easy and fun. You just set stuff out on the special paper,
Let it expose for a minute or two, and when you take the stuff off, you will see their shadows.
But wait! Then you rinse it in water for a minute and the shadows disappear.
Until they start drying. Then the shadows turn white instead of dark. It's cool.
So here's how that bionicle/hero factory/whatever one turned out:
The Redhead wanted to do very simple stuff with his playmobil guys.
Whereas I was like 'Throw on all the things!'
Playmobil (the discolored spots are from water pooling as it dried... I wasn't too careful, but they're supposed to dry flat and I don't know a good way of not letting it happen anyway!).
Lego! Check out the headless minifig, ha!
I am fascinated by the detail this paper picks up. Below you can see a closeup of the clear magformers.
Bonus points if you can guess what this last one is! You might have to be a long-time reader or know us in real life to get it.
So once again, packing lunches is a new thing for us. There's more about what we've packed so far here.
Today I'm talking gear. When I was looking around deciding which lunch gear to get, not all of my questions were answered, so I hope this is helpful to someone!
First up, here's the bag we picked, it's a Wildkin double decker. I really like the idea of having two compartments, one for cold, one for warm. Or one for cold, one for snacks or something.
I bought it on amazon, finding a REALLY good price on this one specific color in the summer.
Reviews reported that it would fit an Easylunchbox in the bottom section. Since my ziploc divided containers are the same size, that was important. These things should be stored flat, not sideways! I was afraid the bag would be huge, but it is a great size.
It seems to work pretty well, I don't think it insulates as well as this other lunchbag we have (pottery barn - discontinued), but it works! It also has a long shoulder strap, which is great as the girl doesn't have a locker, so she has to carry her lunch with her all day.
She brings a water bottle every day that goes in her backpack pocket, so it doesn't need to fit here, but smaller water bottles (not her 24oz camelbak) or juice boxes would totally fit in the upper section with other food.
We are using two main containers. Ziplocs and Lunchbots. The ziplocs are great containers. I'm still trying to use less plastic, but these are just REALLY easy to pack. Reviews say that the lid seals better than the Easylunchbox, but may not last as long. Supposedly they are BPA free.
Here's how a ziploc looks in the lower section of the bag (it does zip):
Here's how the ziploc container (again, about the same size as the Easylunchbox) compares to the lunchbot (duo pictured).
Lunchbots are about the same size as the large section of the ziploc.
But speaking of lunchbots - I love them!
I ordered one (the duo as it seemed the most versatile) on amazon, but then found them on sale at Zulily and ordered two more. Glad I did! Besides packing flexibility, I like having them around to pack for the boys/me if we're heading out. So we have the uno, duo and trio boxes.
They wash up great in the dishwasher, and I do have really hard water, so you'll see some spots, but they come off easily (when I'm not lazy).
The lids go on securely, but aren't leakproof.
If you look below, you'll see why the divider isn't leakproof either.
See how juicy stuff would flow right through that seam? So I say hummus is a yes, but applesauce/yogurt, etc are no-gos.
Lunchbots are more expensive than plastic containers for sure, but they should last forever.
You can totally pack enough food, even for an adult, depending on how you pack them. If we're not packing the lunch tight, or are packing sandwiches or something bulkier, like our piroshki, then sometimes we need to send two of these containers.
Next up on my perfect world wishlist is the bento trio. It's a bigger size lunchbot, close to the ziploc size. Sounds ideal.
Here's how a lunchbot fits inside the wildkin bag (it is sitting on a thin ice pack in this photo).
And lunchbots fit in the top section, too - ziplocs only in the bottom. Yes, we keep a tin of tiny altoids in there, too! Inspired by my always-too-garlicky hummus. ;)
I got a set of these little dipper boxes from Easylunchbox.
Here's how they fit in the ziploc:
And the lunchbot:
They're kind of a weird size, I think. Great for something like salsa or nuts, a bit big for salad dressings, too small for applesauce or yogurt. In a perfect world I'd have these stainless lunchbot mini containers, and while I believe you get what you pay for... the plastic ones were a lot cheaper to start out with.
Oh, also I haven't had much luck washing the little dippers in the dishwasher - they flip over.
Now for hot lunch: We got the 16oz Thermos container (like this, but our color isn't showing and I definitely didn't pay that much. If you keep an eye on prices you can really get good deals on amazon).
Seems to work fine, the folding spoon is nice. She told me they have a microwave at school, so maybe this wasn't as big a deal as I thought. I do prime it, by filling it with boiling water before I fill it with food.
*Edit: We've now tried her thermos for cold smoothies, too and it works great! She makes her smoothie at night and sticks it (and her empty thermos) in the freezer. In the morning I thaw the smoothie enough to get it out of the container and into the thermos (I think it would be way too hard if we froze it directly in the thermos). By lunchtime it is 'the perfect consistency!' - slushy.
Here is how the thermos fits (top section only) in the lunch bag.
Now you may remember that we already HAD bento containers. Cute, cute bento boxes. Well, years later they really smelled 'plasticky'. Very. I wouldn't want to eat out of them. Then I looked up BPA info and it looked like ours weren't BPA free. So we ditched them. However I did keep some of our bento stuff:
Someday I might want silicone cups but for now I am using what I have, which are these cute daiso ones paper ones. I kept a couple of little forks, they are great because you can put the fork back in the little box, which keeps the lunchbag clean. However they're not very sharp, meaning probably not so effective on salads...
I've already shown you the silicone smoothie pops, which only fit in ziploc or lunchbot uno. They are working well, but reportedly are just 'cold drinks' by the time lunch rolls around. But that's fine.
I also kept a couple bento straps, just for fun.
I already told you about our cloth napkins.
...Let's see... ice packs?
We have the 'standard' ice pack blocks, but also the slim ones, which fit above and under whatever is packed in the bottom section. Those are perfect for this bag/box combo.
The only thing I'm missing is a smallish container for a single snacky thing, like popcorn, one muffin, etc. to be packed separately for a snack. I may pick up (or put on my Christmas wishlist) a couple of lunchskin reusable bags for that. I've only packed two disposable baggies in her lunches so far, but I'd rather not use any.
I still really enjoy packing lunch kinda bento style. The divided containers make it very easy to add variety/nutrition, as we found out years ago. Also it's not a big deal if you run out of bread or anything. There's always little bits of something in the cupboards that will fill the boxes.
I'll leave you with the last couple of days' lunches:
Quesadilla with salsa, hard-boiled egg, orange slices, chocolate chip cookie (broken up to fit!)
Leftovers from last night's dinner: Indonesian pineapple spicy chicken salad. The Uno container has cabbage, carrot, and red bell pepper, the duo has chicken, peanuts, peanut dressing, crushed pineapple (all to add to the salad), and a muffin (leftover from breakfast - for snack).
Yes, I do put the lids on the mini dippers, but they look better in photos without.
I think that's it, hopefully someone can use this excessive information - Any questions?
So I did have to pack lunches one other year (6 years ago?), when the Redhead went to an all-day autism preschool, but he likes boring lunches so it wasn't fun.
I know it's weird, and all you public school moms who've done this every day for YEARS for multiple kids are rolling your eyes at me... but yeah, I'm kinda liking this. I think we've done a pretty good job of variety for her first three weeks of school!
The first thing I did (besides completely fixate on the idea of packing lunches MONTHS ago, and making notes, researching gear, buying a book, reading blogs and pinning ideas - I did mention I fixate on stuff?) was help the Girl compile a list of foods she likes (she's picky), broken into categories. It's posted inside a cabinet door in case of bleary early-morning brain.
Also, if she complains about a fruit or veg, I can be like: Nope, it's Girl-approved, you put it on your list!
I don't mind packing her lunch for her. She has to get up so early and get ready for school (and school is a new thing!), I don't mind doing this to help her out.
I seriously don't know why I felt like documenting her lunches, but I did:
First day of school requested sandwich: Bagel with onion cream cheese, deli turkey, lettuce; pringles, dried pears, chocolate
Raisins, smoothie pop, string cheese, pretzels, cinnamon almonds, hard-boiled egg, triscuits
Corn muffins, tortilla chips, homemade (garden!) salsa, smoothie pop, dried pears, carrots + dip, hard-boiled egg
(Hard-boiled eggs have a paper twist of salt with them)
Mac'n'cheese (I try and stock up on Annie's organic when it goes on sale), carrots + dip, zucchini bread, dried pears, toffee almonds
Leftover pasta + marinara, side salad + italian dressing, raisins, string cheese, pretzels, nutella
Pizzadillas (whole wheat tortilla with 'pizza cheese' (leftover jack+cheddar+spices) and pepperoni, pizza sauce to dip, granola bite, smoothie pop, orange slices, pirate's booty
Cottage cheese, black bean hummus, pita, hard-boiled egg, orange slices, energy bites
Pirate's booty, granola bites, dried pears, string cheese, smoothie pop, hard-boiled egg, zucchini bread
Sandwich FAIL*, smoothie pop, energy bites, mixed nuts + raisins, orange slices
*I tried to make a basic PBJ sandwich with my Totoro cookie cutter. The strawberry jam came out of the eyes and looked pretty disturbing. Luckily since I did such a shoddy job of it she thought it was the Millenium Falcon and was not scarred.
Cheddar cheese-filled piroshki,* apple slices, mixed nuts
Mac'n'cheese, carrots + dip, peach cobbler, energy bites
Dumplings + rice, asian cabbage salad with sesame dressing (all from Costco, dinner the night before was easy and yummy!)
*The piroshki (filled rolls) are leftovers, they have little toothpick holes in the top so we could tell which were cheddar and which were pizza and which were keema (Indian-spiced ground beef +peas - YUM). She was boring and wanted just cheese for lunch.
French toast with syrup and apple slices, cheese stick
Grapes, laughing cow cheese, triscuits, sunflower nuts, zucchini bread, yogurt
Things of note:
We are still figuring out the right quantities of food. Breakfast is at 6am, and school isn't out till 3:30, and we are usually running her straight to dance. So snacks are needed. The first day of school she said she was hungry by the end. I think I overcompensated the next week or two! And then yesterday (french toast) she was starving again. Sometimes there is a string cheese, nutri-grain bar or something little thrown in her bag also, for her morning break in classes.
Make-aheads + leftovers are key!
Most of these photos are taken at 6am - dark + bad lighting, sorry! With the exception of the dumpling bento - I packaged that all up when I was putting away dinner leftovers. Lunch packing with leftovers rules.
If it's not leftovers, I don't pack lunch at night.
I don't pack lunches for my boys at the same time. All the same food is available to them, but why repackage it before lunch? Plates work fine and take up less dishwasher real estate. Also, The Redhead would be happy with the same lunch EVERY DAY.
Super easy veg/chip dip: equal parts Sour cream (or plain yogurt) and mayo plus a little Mrs. Dash onion + herb seasoning (purple lid). So easy, natural, and no msg, salt, or yucky stuff. You can mix up just a tiny bit for lunch if you want.
I've never bought string cheese before! The packaging + price has always held me back, but they went way on sale (back to school cheese?) and have a long expiration date and she loves them, so I did it. Easy protein, I'm sold.
Everything is served cold unless it's in a thermos jar.
Yesterday she said to me, "So, are you sick of packing my lunches yet?" And I replied, "Nope." "Good!"
A totally unnecessary gear post coming up.
*First: I'm afraid my last post made my kids sound like entiteled, selfish brats. They really are seriously over-sentimental (and just HATE CHANGE), not selfish. I promise.
So the whole lunch-packing thing has been going pretty well. Into week three and I don't hate it yet, so that's cool. The Girl has been good about making things to freeze or stick in the fridge on the weekends.
Here are some chewy granola bars/bites.
BTW, I finally figured out that these last a lot longer if you cut/package them up and stick them in the fridge, rather than leave them out for people to nibble on. Duh.
And last week we tried this recipe for energy bites (minus the raisins and with wheat germ instead of flax seed).
Good stuff. More about lunches soon. Also peaches, because wow, we have gotten a lot of those.
And random, but food-related: I stopped by Costco on the way home from taekwondo with the boys last weekend. Famous last words: "I only need two things, I don't need a cart." Ha. I figured even if I found one or two extra things that I had the boys to help carry stuff. Wasn't counting on the plethora of awesome samples that day and their hands were full of popsicles, afghan food, sushi... So, yeah, that was dumb and we looked ridiculous!
I don't know what it was, but everyone I talked to on Labor Day was going through stuff, dejunking, purging, organizing.
I decided to tackle the play room. It's way different than you've last seen. The toys are in a smaller area. The toys tend to be all over the FLOOR in that smaller area. You couldn't walk through it, and the boys were bringing toys out and spreading their mess around simply because there wasn't room in there. Something had to be done.
The stuff I have to do to get rid of things in my house, I swear...!
While I was cleaning out/reorganizing the playroom the boys were SO on my case about not giving anything away. Seriously, it was ridicous. Monkey was getting teary.
"Oh, that's where that [cheap, tiny, plastic, faded, party favor] toy lion was! I love that lion!"
"Really? You never play with that."
"But now I want to LOTS!"
Did he remember the lion today? No. But it fit (barely) in the Random Toy Box that I keep for just such trinkets. So it stayed. For now.
The Redhead was 'helping' me simply to keep an eye on what I was throwing away. He really was suspicious. He wanted a break, so he kept trying to get me distracted. He didn't trust me in with the toys by myself.
"You should go check on [Monkey]."
"I think he's up to something. You should go check. Upstairs."
Yeah, I didn't fall for that.
I made a 'move to the basement' pile of keeper toys, and secured a few giveaway bag hiding places.
Today, while the Redhead was reading on the couch, and Monkey was working on math in the kitchen, I tiptoed upstairs and casually brought down a giveaway bag that was under my bed. I snuck it outside through the garage, and hid it under the hatchback cover thing so the boys couldn't see what was in it - even from in the car. Yes, I've been burned that way before.
Leaving the hatch open, and wearing my quietest flip flops, I kept loading up. Back and forth, from the playroom, where I'd stashed a basket full of toys and books up on the loft bed, through the garage, leaving the door to the garage cracked so they didn't hear it open and close a lot and get suspicious.
I filled one last bag of giveaway and successfully made it back unnoticed.
I had to take Monkey to taekwondo and asked him to just keep his gear in the seat with him instead of in the back. He was cool with that. On the way home he wanted to store it in the back, but that was fine, because after dropping him off I donated the goods and he was none the wiser.
So our house is now 2 big garbage bags and one big basket full of things LIGHTER. Oh, and a giant toy semi-truck.
Toy Story ruined my children's charitable instincts, I swear.
Did I ever tell you this? Monkey, who was 5 when Toy Story 3 came out, was very sniffly at the end of it. His first comments were: "I am NEVER giving toys away, and I'm NOT going to college."
Boom. Thanks, for that, Pixar!
(edit: I'm afraid my last post made my kids sound like entiteled, selfish brats. They really are seriously over-sentimental (and just HATE CHANGE), not selfish.)
Last week was probably the best first week of school we've ever had! It came with some hard parts (waking up at 5:30am with the Girl - UGH, so tired!) but overall everyone had a great week which I am SO glad of. The girl loves her school. LOVES her school. I am so glad we found an 'atypical' high school for her to attend. There is some adjusting going on with homework, but she has woken up happy each morning and has had a great experience so far.
Mentioned earlier, but we are abandoning the school boxes as a system (which worked GREAT for a few years, and then not as much the last couple). As the boys get older, lists are working better, so I borrowed/modified Jessica's checklist. I printed out the first week, made changes where I needed to for week 2, and then hopefully soon I can just print a couple 'permanent' ones and get them laminated. Or keep switching things up, who knows. The checklists worked SUPER good the first week. I was impressed with how well the Redhead especially did with them.
Anyway, I do like browsing other people's curriculum picks, so here's the main stuff we are using this year with the two boys (9yo and 11yo).
Science: Earth/Space science. Spine = Usborne Science Encyclopedia, with Usborne Science Dictionary, The story of Astronomy, Usborne Planet Earth. This isn't a sponsored post, I just LOVE Usborne books! We have a bunch and they are my go-to publisher when I need something.
For history and science I mapped out all the topics I wanted to cover, and listed the page numbers in all the books so that it's EASY prep during the year. I taped those on the inside covers of my planner. And of course we will add historical fiction, and other library books in supporting roles.
The Girl breezed through Singapore, it worked well for her. Not so much for the boys, and I'm finding that Monkey really does better with variety! Khan is AWESOME and free (the Girl has used this, too) and will be daily, Beast Academy and Life of Fred are alternating days. Life of Fred is great, he is on... book L or M or something. Beast Academy is a new find and the fact that the text is comic-book style is very appealing. Monkey sat and read half of it for fun right when it came in the mail. We'll see how it goes, but I am highly optimistic already.
Redhead: math apps (he's been into this one called squeebles), kumon and other various workbooks, Life of Fred, math fun box (this is where I keep all the (recently weeded!) math manipulatives, like clocks, dominos, play money, flash cards, wrap-ups, etc.). Not sure if he's getting math tutoring at the school this year.
handwriting: Still using Handwriting without tears (cursive for monkey)
typing: Dance Mat typing (BBC) I'm hoping the redhead will be able to learn to type, but he isn't ready, so just Monkey right now.
writing/language: Writing with Ease (We just started this in the spring, and trying to not use the workbooks has admittedly slowed me down, but I am trying again!), projects from Partnership in Writing, journaling, narrations, letter writing, etc. We don't do any formal reading program, my kids just READ.
Greek/Latin roots: English from the Roots up
geography: Daily Geography Practice (except we do it all on Fridays), general mapwork, iPad apps
art: Whatever I make time for. The Redhead has shown interest in watercolors and paper crafting. I still want to do more printmaking with them. We'll see what happens! ... This is a depressing statement from someone who graduated in art education!
Now on to Week Two! The one where occupational therapy, piano lessons, and dance start back up (on top of taekwondo, swimming, cubs, and the other stuff that doesn't stop for the summer - augh!). I'm kinda nervous...
We have a pear tree. Technically we have two, but one doesn't produce anymore (fire). Only two of us like pears (sadly, I'm not one of those two), and most years we end up wasting some of the fruit.
So rather than just painting them, I decided to try drying them. We have a dehydrator that we've barely used.
I cut the pears into a bowl of water + lime juice.
I dried two trays to try it out. But guess what, the girl liked them (Mikey likes it!) and even said they tasted like candy. And we had more pears, so...
We ran the dehydrator back on the porch so we didn't have to hear the fan all the time.
I don't like dried fruit, but I have to admit, these are good!
I ended up drying 10 trays total. I figure I could fit about 3 pears per tray (I got better at squeezing them in), so that's 30 pears preserved! And way easier than canning. Those 30 pears fit into two of these (3 cup?) pyrex containers and are in the freezer to last an extra long time.
Mostly I just got excited that I found a fruit the girl WANTS to eat!
I think New Year celebrations should be held when school starts. It always feels like the right time to set new goals and try a little harder and celebrate.
The girl got her backpack all ready and headed off to school with lunch in hand. Kinda weird sending her off for her first day of school...ever.
I am so glad jean jackets are in style. I have had this weird urge to buy her docs - not realizing they are apparently making a comeback as well. I think I just associate them with school!
We are getting an earlier start with the boys' school now that she has to be out the door rather early (it was dark until just before she left!). That's a good thing, really.
I was really happy to get a "Great so far!" text from her at lunch!
We watched this video (again) and man, I laugh every time. But the redhead LOVES it and sang it all day.
We have had some lovely weather lately: school outside as long as we can!
After school treat (dough balls are handy!).
I found time to make some salsa (gotta use those tomatoes!), but did NOT find time to mop. Tomorrow?
All told, a good day. Onward!
One of the cool things about her new school compared to my high school: no bells, and ten minutes between each class! !! I had four. Four minutes when you had to fight backpack traffic and somehow get from the german trailer out back to the driver's ed room on the other side of the school down in the basement. Ten minutes would have been heavenly. Maybe even time use the bathroom if it wasn't full of smokers! Ahh, high school.