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LaLa Lunchbox Blog
My daughter has had such fun reading through these Lunchbox Love cards from Say Please! One side has a lovely note and the other has a factoid. It's become like a game of telephone in my house... my daughter bounces around popping off trivia and my son repeats them to me (as if I haven't heard them the first time even though I'm standing less than 10 feet away). But somehow there's so much excitement in the minute that transpires from when he first hears the info, that he comes up with fun, new plot twists. "Mama! Caterpillars have bigger muscles than humans!" Hee hee.
Anyway, the cards have become the very first thing I place into the lunchboxes now and I get pretty excited choosing one, if you must know. They're encouraging, supportive, loving and fun for kids. Did you know that the world's smallest frog is about the size of a Cheerio? Me neither, but that 's a pretty fab fact to have in my back pocket. There are also blank cards inside of each box, for your own little message. I just couldn't choose what to put in today's lunch and so I used two cards. The team behind Lunchbox Love believe that what you take in one an emotional level is as important as what you take in on a nutritional level. I'm on board with that completely.
For the next 48 hours, you can save 48% on ALL Lunchbox Love cards. It's a fabulous opportunity to stock up on sweet notes, jokes and trivia for your family or as a gift for others.
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You know that person who always has a cold? I'm the opposite of that person. I am never sick. It's a point of pride, if you must know.
But I've been put in my place this winter. Any whiff of smugness that I once had about my ninja ability to stay healthy is over. Winter has smacked me in the face with two stomach bugs and now a virus with fever that has basically flattened me.
I'm not alone in this; my babysitter had it and my girls have it. Misery does not love company. My mission is to keep my son and my husband fever free and care for my girls and myself in the meantime. I'm unbelievably grateful that my babysitter is feeling better! Last night, with super low energy, I decided that instead of going through the steps to make meatballs (originally the plan before the fever hit), I'd make them deconstructed - which really just meant I'd use all of the intended ingredients but throw them together instead of carefully construct them. So I threw the ingredients in a frying pan and served them with spinach linguine, deconstructed. You know what? It was tasty. And fast. And it's something I'm going to keep tinkering with. I realize I'm posting this recipe and have only made it once, which is not typically something I like to do. But I've done it, so there.
1 clove of garlic
1/2 pound ground meat (I used ground pork but anything should do the trick)
1/4 cup of plain unseasoned bread crumbs
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
olive oil for frying
Grated parmesan to sprinkle on top
Serve with pasta (we used spinach linguine)
Place olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the ground meat and stir, breaking it up into small bits. Add the breadcrumbs, egg and salt and combine well, using the side of a spatula to make it piece-y.
Continue cooking until the meat is fully cooked. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and prepare pasta as directed. Serve the meat on top or combine as I've done. Garnish with grated Parmesan.
My baby is teething something awful.
She just got three of her four first molars (the ones next to the eye teeth) in the last three weeks and the fourth is now making an entrance. Plus, at least one of the eye teeth is on the way. The worst part is, she seems to be such a slooooow teether. My two older kids used to get two teeth at a time, there would be two days of distress and then bam! it was over. This seems to be lasting forever. Pile on a 24 hour stomach bug (for her AND for me!) and it's been less than pleasant at my house lately.
In the process, my little gal seems to only want either crunchy foods or super soft stuff like applesauce and avocado. I'm taking matters into my own hands. We are well stocked on avocados. The applesauce is easy enough - I make this one fairly regularly. Applesauce is also great for tender tummies, so it's doing double duty. Bread crust is beloved right now but she keeps begging for "cah-cahs" (crackers) so I decided to make croutons - bread crust, taken to the next crunchy level.
I used the remaining half of a loaf of seeded sourdough bread that I bought from my local bakery three days ago. I sliced it into chunks that seemed a good fit for her little hands (she likes to have something in each hand these days) and drizzled with olive oil. I spread them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and popped them into an oven preheated to 375. They baked for 15 minutes and came out perfectly crispy, crunchy and delightful.
These are also great for dipping and have been used as a hummus delivery vehicle by my little gal too. These croutons would keep for several days but most likely, they'll be devoured within 48 hours!
I'm pretty much out of the diaper bag phase now but here's a fact: my diaper bags were always packed with everything you could possibly think of needing for any situation. When my first baby was born in 2006, I got one of those fancy diaper bags with the special compartments for everything and with special attachments so that I could hook it right onto my stroller handle, or use it as an over-the-shoulder-bag. In theory, it was right up my alley. But in reality, while I had everything separated (diapers did not mingle with snacks and the extra set of clothes had it's own baggie), all of the stuff got thrown into the middle compartment. At some point I realized it was ridiculous to carry a purse and a diaper bag, so the middle compartment became the home of my keys, wallet and phone too. It basically mirrored the chaos of my own purse, only it contained stuff for my baby. Sure, I had moments of clarity where I would empty everything out, reorganize and start again, only to land in the same place all over again. I gave away that diaper bag to a friend and tried to come to terms with the fact that I'm a disorganized-organized person. I'm a neat house/messy closets kind of gal.
Four years later when my son was born, I got one of those looks-like-a-purse-but-it's-a-diaper-bag thing. Even empty, it was heavier than my son when he was born, and he was an eight pounder! Again I tried to organize the compartments and put bottles here, toys there, diapers here, changing pad there. Again I failed. But at least I had everything I needed *just in case*. And let me tell you, my babysitters LOVED this. If you're prepared like this, you never have to detour from the adventure. My husband disagrees; he says the detour is part of the adventure and always wondered why I needed to have everything on hand just in case? I wondered how, when he had solo outings with the kiddies, he could just leave the house with a diaper and a few wipes?
We live in New York City. There are snacks and waters and wipes and diapers on every corner. If there's a major poop accident and a change of clothing is desperately needed or something else that I haven't thought of happens and the place on the nearest corner can't help, we can just hop home.
I've got a third baby now who will be 18 months this weekend. I can't remember when I last used a diaper bag but I can admit this: when we leave the house, I bring everything just in case. But now it's shoved into a canvas bag. Spare pacifiers, extra diapers, wipes, books, toys, extra socks, you name it. And I've always given myself a little pat on the back for it until today. I was stopped in my tracks today after reading this article from Morgan over on The818.com. It's all about decluttering and getting rid of the crap you don't use (decluttering/purging and I have a love/hate relationship). She quotes Karen Kingston, author of “Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui” who wrote:
“Keeping things ‘just in case’ indicates a lack of trust in the future…It is often not your own future you are concerned about providing for. You may also sincerely want to be able to help others. So then you keep absolutely everything ‘just in case’ someone else needs it.”
Morgan writes "you’ve kind of got to get rid of all that crap and trust that you’ll be able to access/aquire the crap you need when you need it."
Ugh. I.AM.GUILTY! And frankly, the diaper bag is just one teensy example of this larger problem. I have a lack of trust in the future. And that's a bad example to set for my kids.
Must. Change. I want my kids to feel empowered that they can weather any situation, even if they aren't prepared for it. They shouldn't *need* everything packed just in case. So why should I?
Lots of food for thought here. I'm not even sure if I'm about to dive whole hog into embracing the uncertainties of the future and my ability to deal with them as they crop up or if I'm about to spend more time defensively justifying my own perspective. Stay tuned.
I grew up with family dinners. I'm not sure when it began but for as long as I can remember, my parents, sister and I ate the last meal of the day together and downloaded the day. Now with three kids of my own, I long to provide my family with the same experience but I don't think we're ready yet. My kids are young (the littlest is not yet 18 months) and they eat dinner at 5:15pm. My husband isn't home from work until 7:30, when at least one of my kids is usually already in bed. Their dinner time won't change any time soon, nor will my husband's work schedule and as such, we have made breakfast the family meal of the day.
There are lots of plusses to this actually. When we're not scrambling in the morning - dealing with the typical mayhem that families with school aged children deal with - we can chat about the day ahead, read some books, acknowledge each other and get excited about routine plans and out-of-the-box adventures. It's genuine together time.
This morning we all noticed that my littlest wasn't hungry (most unusual for her). Out of nowhere, and for the first time ever, she vomited. Everywhere. Poor thing! But can I tell you? My family *motivated!* Every single person pitched in because we were all gathered around the same table. Within seconds, my son had fetched the paper towels, my daughter picked out fresh clothes for her little sister, my husband cared for our little one and cleaned her up and I got busy cleaning up the mess and disinfecting. Go Team!
Today will be a long day undoubtedly. It's already been an insanely long morning. Wish us luck that this doesn't become a family barf-o-rama.
I'm a morning person. To me, that means I get up and have energy, even on nights when I get less than 6 hours of sleep. Stressful mornings drive me up a wall. But realistically, there are so many moving parts in a house with three kids in two different schools and while I understand how hard it is to get everyone up and at 'em, I keep wondering what we can do to make the mornings a little easier on everyone. Breakfast is the one meal that my family has where we are all reliably together. As a gal who grew up on family dinners but can't yet get it together to make that happen with my family of five, I rely on breakfast as our time to connect. The food needs to be ready quickly so that we maximize our time at the table.
Experts say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It needs to be healthy and balanced so that kids make it to lunch. I've said it before: to make life easier on busy parents, breakfast likely needs to be assembled at least in part, the night before (and of course, chosen in advance). Voila! These Banana Oatmeal bars fit the bill. In a nutshell, it’s like making oatmeal with bananas. Only you do it in advance. And there’s no messy pot to clean. And it’s super easy, with just four ingredients, absolutely yummy, and a very healthy meal.
I have seen various iterations for bars like these. Many have seeds or nuts or raisins or dried fruit and those are certainly great options or additions. I’ve tinkered with several recipes to create this one that my family devours - and it's a straightforward recipe to make with kids. I love that it doesn’t require elaborate steps or ingredients or even things like flour, eggs or milk. There are four ingredients! This is nut free, dairy free and vegan and has great fiber, potassium and protein. There is zero added sugar. And for those mornings when we’re literally running out the door with part of breakfast tucked into a paper towel, these really come in handy. They also double as a fantastic mid-day snack for parents and kids alike.
Will these eliminate your morning stress? No. But they may lighten the load, and that can make all the difference.
Banana Oatmeal Bars
3 super ripe (aka brown) bananas
2 cups of rolled oats (not instant)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 dish with parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas until they are smooth.
3. Add the oats and mix to combine.
4. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
5. Pour into baking dish. Bake for 25-28 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and enjoy.
I visited Disneyland with my mom around age 10. I still remember the thrill of the rides (Star Tours! Thunder Mountain!) and the magic of Disney. I'll never forget how lucky I felt to have my mom all to myself for several days.
Today as a mom of three, I see how unbelievably hard it is to spend solo time with each kid and still manage to keep my house running (and my sanity) and get work done. It's been a long winter and I've been desperate for sunshine. My dearest friend lives in Los Angeles with her husband and adorable 2 year old, who I hadn't seen since she was a tiny infant. It seemed like a perfect time to get out of town and into the sunshine for a long weekend. I booked the trip with my eldest daughter, soon to be 8, and hoped that this could be the beginning of many wonderful adventures as a twosome. My husband looked forward to adventures of his own at home with our two younger kids.
The trip was all I hoped for and more! We got terrific weather in LA. My daughter was blown away by the fact that winter doesn't have to be cold. She was drinking in the sunshine like a thirsty desert traveler. I surprised her with a trip to Disneyland - and frankly it was a huge eye opener for me. Sure, there are long lines for the rides but it was a phenomenal opportunity to connect. All that waiting and standing around created time for conversations. We're usually so busy being busy; This was exactly what we needed. As an aside, I was happy to see that alongside the cotton candy and churros, there were lots of fresh fruit stands.
It was a jam-packed weekend! Day two was spent at a wonderful farmer's market in Torrance (where I could have spent hours) followed by an afternoon at the Long Beach Aquarium. See those strawberries? We powered through a box of that deliciousness in no time. We discovered cacao pods, luscious looking chard, juicy oranges, buttery avocados, amazingly fresh everything. I love being able to show my kids where their food comes from.
We blinked and the weekend was over. But we came back east with smiles on our faces and serious excitement for spring.
Dear California sunshine: thank you very much!